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Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Us & Them: Blair Mountain

West Virginia Archive
Some of the thousands of armed West Virginia coal miners who marched from Marmet to Blair Mountain from August 25 to September 2, 1921

One hundred years ago, West Virginia was home to our nation’s most violent labor uprising.

For some, the Battle of Blair Mountain was a watershed moment when coal workers decided their rights were worth fighting and even dying for. The armed insurrection pitted 10,000 coal miners against 3,000 heavily armed coal industry guards and state troopers. The conflict came to a head because of the social and economic forces that hit West Virginia’s coal country after World War I. It was the largest labor uprising in American history and the largest armed conflict since the Civil War. And yet, the Battle of Blair Mountain is largely unknown to most Americans, including West Virginians.

To learn more, Us & Them host Trey Kay follows the path of the miners on their march to Mingo, and learns what precipitated the battle.

For more information about Charles B. Keeney’s book “The Road to Blair Mountain: Saving a Mine Wars Battlefield from King Coal.”

For more information about Mary Hott’s album “Devil in the Hills: A Coal Reckoning.”

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

Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond. You also can listen to Us & Them on WVPB Radio — tune in on the fourth Thursday of every month at 8 p.m., with an encore presentation on the following Saturday at 3 p.m.

Chuck Keeney
Trey Kay
Historian Charles Keeney (author of The Road to Blair Mountain: Saving a Mine Wars Battlefield from King Coal) takes Us & Them host Trey Kay to retrace the "March from Marmet to Mingo."
Whipple Company Story
Trey Kay
The boarded up Whipple Company Store in Whipple, W.Va. was built around 1900. As a company store, it remained in operation until August 1957, when the New River Company mine closed.
Mary Hott in the Whipple Company Store
Trey Kay
Singer/songwriter Mary Hott explores the old Whipple Company Store — one of the last remaining coal company stores in Fayette County, WV. The songs on Hott's album "Devil In The Hills" focuses on the culture of the company store and its effect on women.
Cecil Roberts
Trey Kay
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts speaking at a rally in New York City in July 2021. UMWA miners protested outside of the Manhattan headquarters of BlackRock, which is listed as the largest shareholder of Warrior Met Coal. For months, the UMWA has protested Warrior Met for better wages and employee benefits.
UMWA Protesting in NYC
Trey Kay
UMWA protest in midtown New York City in July 2021.
Susan Sarandon speaking at UMWA Rally
Actor Susan Sarandon speaking at a UMWA Rally in Midtown Manhattan.
Susan Sarandon and Trey Kay
Trey Kay
Actor Susan Sarandon speaks with Us & Them host Trey Kay at a UMWA Rally in NYC in July 2021

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