Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Appalshop and Mine War on Blackberry Creek

Appalshop is one of the most vital arts organizations in the country. For over 40 years it has served the central Appalachian region in a number of capacities; though its roots are in documentary filmmaking, Appalshop has expanded in subsequent decades to include WMMT Mountain Community Radio (streaming live), the internationally-respected Roadside Theater, the June Appal record label (featuring traditional mountain music and blues) and many other projects that I hope to feature in the future.

Appalshop's website offers a wealth of music, podcasts and video such as Mine War on Blackberry Creek, which is streaming for a limited time here. This 1986 documentary interviews members of the United Mine Workers of America and members of the community, as well as a young Don Blankenship--now the highly controversial CEO of Massey Coal. The site offers this introduction to the film:

Mine War on Blackberry Creek reports on the long and bitter United Mine Workers of America strike in 1984 against A.T. Massey, America's fourth largest coal company with corporate ties to apartheid South Africa. While strikebreakers work inside the mines and security men with guard dogs and cameras patrol the compound, miners on the picket lines detail the history of labor struggles in the region and their determination to hold out until victory.
A.T. Massey CEO Don Blankenship, listed on AlterNet in 2006 as one of "the 13 scariest Americans," addresses capitalism, social Darwinism, and the global economy, while Richard A. Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer and currently running for President of the AFL-CIO, expresses union values.

Mine War on Blackberry Creek is currently being digitally remastered for release in August.