Always and Forever

Always and Forever

  • Submitted By: arasevan
  • Date Submitted: 02/17/2009 11:05 PM
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 552
  • Page: 3
  • Views: 529



Labor and Industrialization
This week (Wednesday, September 3 and Friday, September 5) we will be watching the film Matewan (John Sayles, 1987) in class. It is based on a true story of coal miners at the Stone Mountain Coal Company in Matewan, Mingo County, West Virginia who organized a union in 1920. The result was a massacre on May 19, 1920, in which 12 people were killed in a shootout between local police and miners, and thugs which the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency had hired to break their strike. The film shows conflicts between local, African-American, and Italian miners, and their attempts to unify in the face of threats from the Company and their hired gun. We will discuss the film in class on Friday, September 5.

If you wish to watch the film again after we have viewed it in class, it is available in the Media Resource Center in Milner Library as well as in local video rental stores.


As we watch this film, keep these questions in mind:

What are working conditions in the mine? How do they compare to working conditions in the meat packing plants as described in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle? How are workers paid?

Why is the union anti-Black? How would you characterize union vs. African-American conflicts?

How does racial tension play into the Company's wishes? What derogatory labels are used in the film for various ethnic groups?

What was Few Clothes Johnson's response to being labeled a "scab"?

Why are Italian immigrant miners hesitant to join the union?

According to Joe Kenehan (the union organizer), what are the two sides to the struggle? What does working-class consciousness mean?

What social problems and changes do immigrants face in this film? Is there pressure on them to assimilate into the dominant culture? What do they lose and what do they gain?

How does Kenehan feel about using violence to resolve labor...

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