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Much of Alabama's labor history is written in its coal fields. This book records the critical contribution that District 20 of the United Mine Workers of America played in the state's labor movement through its strong stands on such issues as child labor, public education, and interracial unions. Standing at the cutting edge of social and political history, these essays cover five periods over a century of union activity: the emergence of a militant labor force during mining's formative years; the World War I era, when mine operators tried to divide black and white labor; the increasing role of the state in labor relations during the interwar years; rapid changes in the union between 1942 and 1975; and the 1977-79 strike, the largest in the United Mine Workers' history. Through historic photographs and depictions of living and working conditions, contributors Edwin L. Brown, Colin J. Davis, Daniel Letwin, Brian M. Kelly, Peter Alexander, Glenn Feldman, and Robert H. Woodrum portray the world that miners, both black and white, made. In a state where racial segregation was the norm, even the earliest District 20 contract proposals demanded equal pay for equal work regardless of color. It Is Union and Liberty shows that the UMW in Alabama stands apart from perceptions of southern trade unionism as exclusionary and racially fragmented. It sheds light on an important segment of the state's labor history and is a testament to District 20 on its centennial celebration.
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