The National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum a $30,000 challenge grant for The Blair Centennial Project, a plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain in 2021.
The NEH grant committee called the Blair Centennial Project "a bold and collaborative effort to use the humanities to foster cultural tourism and give a challenged community hope for the future through respect for the past," according to a news release.
The Battle of Blair Mountain is the largest armed insurrection in the United States other than the Civil War. Coal mining families in southern West Virginia joined the United Mine Workers of America and rose up against a cruel system denying civil rights that was created and controlled by mine owners.
The five-day battle took place in late August 1921.
Representatives from The Mine Wars Museum and community organizations and volunteers in McDowell, Kanawha, Boone, Logan and Mingo counties are developing a series of interactive and interpretive activities to be held throughout 2021, culminating in a weekend packed with events across southern West Virginia over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-7, 2021). A preliminary schedule is expected soon.
Initial partners in the project include West Virginia Humanities Council, West Virginia Labor History Association, International United Mine Workers of America, UMWA Local 1440, National Coal Heritage Area, West Virginia Preservation Alliance, West Virginia Community Development Hub and Eliza Newland at the Watts Museum.
Additional partners are also welcome.
The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in Matewan preserves and interprets artifacts and historical records of the local communities affected by the West Virginia Mine Wars, exploring historical events from multiple perspectives through the lives of ordinary people.