Harlan County, USA

In the documentary we watched in the class a lot of events and facts shocked me. For instance, an interview with one of the eldest coal miners who said that he went to work when he was 6 years old and he was made to work 18 hours a day.

The idea that a 6 year old child is going to work in a coal mine is terrible by itself, supplemented with the horrifying inhuman conditions and unreal long hours (18 hours) makes it unbelievable. I would go on strike too!

The rise of tension between the workers and the company executives creates feeling of a war. A war in the 20th century between citizens of the same color, the same country, the same state. People carrying baseball beats and guns not only because they are ready to fight, but also because it became very unsafe. A war where a woman carries a gun in her bra saying “You would be crazy not to carry a gun”.

The war, or fight rather, was for better working conditions, better wages, and fairer labor practices. During the time of the strike women demonstrated strong organizing and leadership skills, readiness to fight fearless along with their husbands for better life, for better future.

One of the other things that draw my attention in the documentary was the music created by people, the songs that were telling the stories and the songs that were sang during strikes like “We shall not be moved!” Singing this song while picketing on the road made the scene very powerful when the executive (one of their primary enemies) turned his car around and left. It felt like a victory, may be not a big one, but certainly a very important one.