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Statement of United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts Regarding Preserving the Blair Mountain Battlefield

date: 
May 12, 2005

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts issued the following statement today regarding efforts to preserve the Blair Mountain Battlefield:

"The events that took place on Blair Mountain are an important part of the history of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and coal miners throughout Appalachia. Blair Mountain also stands as a pivotal event in American history, where working men and women stood up to the lawless coal barons of the early 20th century and their private armies and fought for their rights as Americans and indeed, the rights of working families all over the world.

"The UMWA has always believed the Blair Mountain battle site should be preserved, and I began publicly calling for it back in the 1980's. We believe a monument should be erected at the site explaining what happened there, and that the road running through the site should be renamed Blizzard Highway, in honor of Bill Blizzard, the miners' leader at Blair Mountain. We support preserving the land immediately around the battle site, because we believe it's important for future generations to stand on that ground, and understand the importance of what happened there.

 "This is also a personal issue for me and thousands of others from coal mining families who have relatives and ancestors who fought at Blair Mountain. What they did is a source of pride and inspiration to our families, and helps give us the strength to carry on their fight for justice. We will never forget it, nor should America."

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