If its not worth dying for, then its not worth standing up for.
The students came and I went with them to . If you don’t know about what happened in Matewan you should read up on it or watch the movie. A lot of people, including children, lost their lives in Matewan over coal mining and trying to fight for safe working conditions. The history of Matewan and the Coal Wars is something that is important for everyone to know. Not only for those of you here in West Virginia but everyone. It is the only time in history that the US military fired on their own citizens. When we were in Matewan Donna May who runs the Depot Restaurant said during that time there was a train called the Bull Moose Special it came through where miners were striking to unionize the mines. As the train rolled by with guns point out the windows, they shot everyone in sight men, women, and even children. The families dug holes to put the children in to shield them from the flying bullets for the next time the train came rolling through.
For along time Matewan’s story went untold because if you admitted you knew anything about what happened you were dead in a matter of months. Everyone in America needs to know this story because even though lives were lost they were not lost in vain. Everyday when people go into the mines, they are safer now and have a union to back them up thanks to those brave miners and their families that stood up and said I have had enough and I will not be treated this way! When the head of the coal company at the time was asked whats more important to you your miners or your mules he said “the mules they are harder to replace”. I was shocked when I heard that statement.
Hearing the story of these miners also made me think about what people in my family have always said. When I am ready to run to the streets and get in the face of someone about something I believe in, my family says “is it worth dying for if ?” . If the answer is yes then go do it. The answer was yes for these people and the answer is yes for me to end poverty. It is a cause I would die for and I am not afraid to stand up and fight for what is right like these brave souls were not afraid to stand up.
On the way to Matewan the students talked with me about Teen DAWG and how we started that day at the capitol during the stop the TANF cuts rally. How we took matters into our own hands and when we saw the head of the welfare department walking on the capitol grounds we were off and chased him clear to the other side and surrounded him demanding answers…And I also joke that that was the only time I ever ran.
They spoke with our teens in Big Ugly about anything and everything from school to boys and music. They are really interested in Teen DAWG and what we do with the youth here in West Virginia and the fact that we are a statewide project. I talked with them about the upcoming conferences and our Teen 2 Teen reference books we distribute.
We are planing to make the Appalachian Immersion Trip an annual event and I would love if they met more of our teens. I want to hold a party for them to get to know our teens and for them to see how strong and wonderful our teens are. I am really excited for them to come again and I can’t wait for the teens to meet them!!
Well OK…… so I have had every emotion known to man writing this, but that’s OK. I miss the students and i can’t wait for them to come back. I met some great youth and an awesome professor at Ithica named Alicia Swords who was brought up protesting and fighting for justice,like I was. We talked about how we could’t rebel against our parents by getting aressted or leading a walk out like most kids do because our parents did it already and are cool with it.
Also we found out that Carl Johnson, who is from Baltimore with UWA, received a grant from Self Development Of People. The same people DAWG has received two grants from and Teen DAWG received the grant to do our own teen conference this summer from. We learned this after Carl told Jesse Haynes he knew him and told him how…Isn’t that just wild?! At least I think it is. I cant wait to see everyone again…And the new people they bring next time!!