[Prologue High School: Coal Mining Mural 3]

Interviews with high school students at Prologue High School who painted a mural depicting the struggles of coal miners, as well as with former coal miners who have relocated to Chicago.

00:02Copy video clip URL The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Nine Pound Hammer” plays as the camera explores a coal mine. It’s dark and difficult to make out details. Followed by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Dark As a Dungeon.” 

04:45Copy video clip URL A young woman describes the experience of going down into the coal mines. She sits in front of a mural depicting coal miners. She discusses wanting to make people realize that coal is something besides simply fuel for their houses. 

07:34Copy video clip URL Another young woman talks about the community of former coal miners and the families of coal miners living in Chicago. She and a young man describe what’s depicted in the mural, including a street lined with coffins. She talks about the origins of specific aspects of the image. 

11:24Copy video clip URL The young man details the scenes depicted in the mural, explaining what the miners are doing, and talking about coal mining more broadly. He talks about his family’s history in coal mining. 

12:33Copy video clip URL The young woman explains a scene in the mural set after a violent battle between miners and the coal company to liberate a coal town. She discusses exploitative practices like forcing miners to shop at company stores. and forcing them to live in poorly-built and poorly-maintained company housing. 

14:28Copy video clip URL The first woman talks about the dangers of mining and the injuries she witnessed  working in the mines. She’s grown more claustrophobic since working in the mines. “I don’t see why people can’t make the coal mines safer and easier to do. There must be some way to make gaining coal easier and safer to do. And the only reason it isn’t done is because there’s no pressure from people to do it. It’s easier to get worked up about the war in Vietnam than it is coal miners suffering in the mines because Vietnam is more real. You see it on TV. You hear about it, you know, people who went over there and fought and it’s just a more publicized issue where the coal mines are ignored.” 

17:10Copy video clip URL A middle-aged couple, Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd, talk about injuries and deaths in the mines. He was lucky to never be seriously injured, he explains.

19:08Copy video clip URL Mr. Shepherd talks about pay. Getting paid per ton. The different jobs he worked in the mines. 

22:05Copy video clip URL Not wanting their children to work in the mines, and that being the reason they moved to Chicago. Mrs. Shepherd talks about her and her mother waiting for family members working in the mine. The anxiety and fear about them getting hurt or killed. Mrs. Shepherd’s father losing several fingers. 

25:53Copy video clip URL Not being able to work. “The doctors got me cut out. Supposed to be physically disabled.” Not yet getting a pension for his black lung. Anti-union activity from the coal company. Being mistreated by the coal company. 

28:15Copy video clip URL Hazel Dickens’ song “Clay County Miner” plays over images of the Shepherds and of the mural. 



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