Memory and the March on Blair Mountain
Despite its effacement from official history, the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain entered history and folklore as the culmination of the West Virginia Mine Wars of the early twentieth century. Ninety years later, the site of that battle, a former national heritage site, is threatened with destruction by the coal extraction process known as mountaintop removal. In June 2011, several hundred people set out to retrace the route taken by miners from Kanawha to Mingo counties. This march invoked a history of resistance in the Appalachian region to promote a vision for the future that included community empowerment and a diversified economy. Drawing on oral histories of participants in the 2011 march and my own experiences as a marcher, Brown examines the ways in which the march used the past to challenge the power encoded in a landscape defined by intensive resource extraction.
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