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The Legacy Of The Upper Big Branch Disaster

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Joan Marcus
Steve Earle in the New York Public Theatre production "Coal Country"

Ten years ago, the Upper Big Branch Mine exploded in West Virginia. Twenty-nine men died and an investigation uncovered that a legacy of overlooked safety measures contributed to the disaster.

A new play called “Coal Country” focuses on the stories of the men and their families. It aims to put a spotlight on prejudice against the rural working class — to bridge a divide between city dwellers and those who work with their hands underground.

Co-creators Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen interviewed the families and the production weaves their words with the music of Grammy-award winner Steve Earle to help people understand another America.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council and CRC Foundation.
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