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Full Version: An Open Letter to U. S. Nat. Park Service and the W. Virginia State Historic Preservation Office
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TO: Hon. Ken Salazar Secretary, US Department of Interior 1849 C. Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20240 AND: Ms. Carol D. Shull Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places and Chief of the National Historic Landmarks Survey National Park Service 1201 Eye St., NW Washington, D.C. 20005 AND: Ms. Susan Pierce Director, State Historic Preservation Office West Virginia Division of Culture and History The Culture Center Capitol Complex 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East Charleston WV 25305-0300 AN OPEN LETTER TO THE U. S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AND THE WEST VIRGINIA STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE As citizens concerned with the faithful representation of America?s rich and often turbulent national history, and as scholars and artists whose work has touched upon the history of coal mining labor in West Virginia and beyond, we write to express our strong opposition to the National Park Service?s de-listing of Blair Mountain as a site of national historic significance, and to support the legal challenge to that decision launched by the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), Friends of Blair Mountain and the West Virginia Labor History Association. Many of us have worked productively with the Park Service in public history and heritage preservation projects in the past, and are hopeful that this mistaken decision can be quickly reversed. As you are no doubt aware, Blair Mountain is the site of the largest armed insurrection on U.S. soil since the Civil War, and one of the most significant events in American labor history. In 1993 a Congressionally-mandated ?Labor History Theme Study? by ten historians for the National Landmarks Program recommended Blair Mountain as a landmark site. Both the site?s importance in our national history and the urgency of adopting energetic measures to preserve it were recognized again in 2006, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Blair Mountain one of America?s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The National Park Service seemed to accept that logic when, in March 2009, it included Blair Mountain in the National Register of Historic Places. We are deeply concerned at the reversal of that decision in the face of pressure from coal companies eager to strip mine the area, and alarmed by very recent reports that mining equipment is already being moved onto the site. We therefore respectfully urge the National Park Service to immediately re-list Blair Mountain on the National Register of Historic Places. Signed, Thomas G. Andrews Assistant Professor of History, University of Colorado at Denver Author, Killing for Coal: America?s Deadliest Labor War Harvard Ayers Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Appalachian State University Principal Investigator, Blair Mountain Archaeological Project Stephen Brier Professor in Urban Education, City University of New York Co-author, Who Built America? Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture and Society Colin J. Davis Professor of History, University of Alabama at Birmingham Co-editor, ?It is Union and Liberty?: Alabama Coal Miners and the UMW Alan Derickson Professor of Labor Studies and American History, Penn State University Author, Workers? Health, Workers? Democracy: The Western Miners? Struggle, 1891-1925 Hazel Dickens Singer and Songwriter from Mercer County, West Virginia; National Heritage Award Recipient; Inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame Writer, ?West Virginia, My Home? Traci JoLeigh Drummond Archivist, Southern Labor Archives at Georgia State University Library William Ferris Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Senior Associate Director, Center for the Study of the American South Leon Fink Distinguished Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago Editor, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas Kenneth Fones-Wolf Professor of History and Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair, West Virginia University Author, Glass Towns: Industry, Labor and Political Economy in Appalachia, 1890-1930s Denise Giardina American Book Award-Winning Novelist born in Bluefield, West Virginia Author, Storming Heaven James Green Professor of History and Labor Studies, University of Massachusetts at Boston Associate Producer, Out of Darkness: The Mine Workers' Story Author, ?The Devil is Here in These Hills?: The West Virginia Mine Wars and the Meaning of Freedom in Industrial America (forthcoming, Pantheon) Cindy Hahamovitch Professor of History, College of William and Mary President, Southern Labor Studies Association Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Director, Southern Oral History Program Wess Harris President, Appalachian Community Services; 2009 West Virginia History Hero Editor and Publisher, When Miners March Brian Kelly Reader in US History, Queen?s University Belfast (N. Ireland); Fellow of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University Author, Race, Class and Power in the Alabama Coalfields, 1908-1921 Kevin Kenny Professor of History, Boston College Author, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires Barbara Kopple Independent Filmmaker, Cabin Creek Films Producer and Director, Harlan County USA Robert Korstad Professor of Public Policy and History, Duke University Co-author, To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America John H. M. Laslett Professor Emeritus of History, University of California at Los Angeles Editor, The United Mine Workers: A Model of Industrial Solidarity? Daniel Letwin Associate Professor of History, Penn State University Author, The Challenge of Interracial Unionism: Alabama Coal Miners, 1878-1921 Ronald L. Lewis Professor Emeritus of History, West Virginia University Author, Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia, 1880-1920 Alex Lichtenstein Associate Professor of History, Florida International University Author, Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South James W. Loewen Visiting Professor of African American Studies, University of Illinois Author, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong Scott Reynolds Nelson Legum Professor of History, College of William and Mary Author, John Henry: Steel Drivin? Man?The Untold Story of an American Legend Brandon Nida Doctoral Candidate in Archaeology, University of California Berkeley Project Partner, Blair Mountain Archaeological Project Kimberley L. Phillips Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Associate Professor of History, College of William and Mary President, Labor and Working-Class History Association Barbara Rasmussen Lead Historian for the National Register of Historic Places Nomination for Blair Mountain Author, Absentee Landowning and Exploitation in West Virginia, 1760-1920 David Rovics Singer and Songwriter Writer, ?Battle of Blair Mountain??featured on West Virginia Public Television John Sayles Screenwriter and Independent Film Director Producer and Director, Matewan Karin A. Shapiro Visiting Associate Professor of History, Duke University Author, A New South Rebellion: The Battle Against Convict Labor in the Tennessee Coalfields, 1871-1896 Joe Trotter Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice, Carnegie Mellon University Author, Coal, Class and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915-1932 Carl R. Weinberg Editor, Organization of American Historians Magazine of History Author, Labor, Loyalty and Rebellion: Southwestern Illinois Coal Miners and World War I Robert H. Woodrum Assistant Professor of History, Georgia Perimeter College Author, ?Everybody Was Black Down There?: Race and Industrial Change in the Alabama Coalfields
Amen, brothers and sisters. This is history that must not be forgotten, particularly in today's political climate. We would do well to re-acquaint ourselves with it all, some of which is already posted here.