The Friends of Blair Mountain are planning to hold a March 9 press conference on the march on Blair Mountain at 11 a.m. in the United Electricians Local 170 Hall at 1591 Washington Street East in Charleston that will include retired United Mine Workers of America coal miner Chuck Nelson, author Denise Giardina and a coalition of leaders from the Appalachian labor and environmental movements will announce the March on Blair Mountain: Appalachia’s Rising, a massive, non-violent five-day march from Marmet to Blair Mountain in Logan County.
Blair Mountain is the site of the largest labor battle in United States' history and the march on Blair Mountain by the miners began in Marmet in Kanawha County.
"We are following the original route of the miners," Brandon Nida, with Friends of Blair Mountain, said Thursday in a phone interview with The Logan Banner.
Marchers will follow the same route that union miners took on their historic march to Blair Mountain in 1921. The ensuing battle was among the largest labor uprisings in United States history, a press release issued by Nida's group said.
“As citizens in Wisconsin and across the country stand up to maintain their right to collectively bargain, Blair Mountain stands as a physical reminder of the struggles of previous generations of workers to establish those rights. It is a place where a new solidarity for the 21st century will be forged between all of those fighting for workers, communities, and our mountains," Nida said in the press release.
According to the press release, march planners believe that current plans to mountaintop removal mine Blair Mountain would dishonor the memory of the miners who sacrificed their lives for the right to collectively bargain.
"Citizens and organizers assert that if mining permits move forward on Blair Mountain, the most significant heritage site in Appalachia will be destroyed and the communities around Blair Mountain will be irreparably and adversely affected," the press release said.
The battle over strip mining Blair Mountain has raged for years. At one point, Blair Mountain had been spared from mountaintop removal mining when it was placed on the National Historic Registry, but was later removed because a significant majority of property owners did not agree on the motion.
The march will begin on June 6 in Marmet. Participants will march 10 miles a day, and evenings will consist of workshops, cultural festivities, and music. On the sixth day, June 11, a large rally will be held in Blair, followed by a march to the crest of Blair Mountain, the press release said.
“We march to demand sustainable job creation in all Appalachian communities, abolish mountaintop removal, strengthen labor rights, and preserve Blair Mountain," the press release said.
The March on Blair Mountain: Appalachia’s Rising is a joint project of the Blair Mountain Coalition and Appalachia Rising. For more information, please visit: www.friendsofblairmountain.org.