Ruins of the Ludlow Colony in the aftermath of the massacre.

The Ludlow Massacre was an attack by the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow Colorado, on April 20, 1914. Some two dozen people, including miners’ wives and children, were killed. The chief owner of the mine, John D. Rockefeller Jr, was widely criticized for the incident.

The massacre, the culmination of a bloody widespread strike against Colorado coal mines, resulted in the violent deaths of between 19 and 26 people; reported death tolls vary but include two women and eleven children, asphyxiated and burned to death under a single tent. The deaths occurred after a daylong fight between militia and camp guards against striking workers. Ludlow was the deadliest single incident in the southern Colorado Coal Strike, which lasted from September 1913 through December 1914. The strike was organized by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) against coal mining companies in Colorado. 

In retaliation for Ludlow, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines over the next ten days, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard along a 40-mile front from Trinidad to Walsenburg. The entire strike would cost between 69 and 199 lives. Thomas G. Andrews described it as the “deadliest strike in the history of the United States”.

Five Times Riots (Yes, Riots) Changed History (VIDEO)

Five Times Riots (Yes, Riots) Changed History (VIDEO)

Peaceful protest: Attempting to change the status quo by working within the rules of the status quo. (my definition).

More than 50 years after the death of Martin Luther King, little has changed.

While institutional segregation and discrimination is technically illegal, the idea that black people, especially black men, need to be tamed is a cornerstone of our justice system.

Have your doubts?…

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Woody Guthrie - Ludlow Massacre


A lot more than 2,000 miles separated the Rockefeller estate from Southern Colorado when on Monday April 20, 1914, the first shot was fired at Ludlow. One of history’s most dramatic confrontations between capital and labor — the so-called Ludlow massacre — took place at the mines of the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I).

The face-off raged for fourteen hours, during which the miners’ tent colony was pelted with machine gun fire and ultimately torched by the state militia. A number of people were killed, among them two women and eleven children who suffocated in a pit they had dug under their tent. The deaths were blamed on John D. Rockefeller Jr. For years, he would struggle to redress the situation - and strengthen the Rockefeller social conscience in the process. […]

“War in Colorado! Women and babies slaughtered!” From the Seattle [WA] “Star”, 4/28/1914 [p.1]. Finally, with the possibility of war with Mexico receding, journalists began turning their attention to the labor situation in Colorado. The Ludlow Massacre had occurred eight days prior, and despite the tabloid-esque quality of this headline, there were in fact almost a dozen children and two women murdered by members of the Colorado National Guard. The reporter who wrote this article, Edward Evans, claims to have been on the scene and helped remove the bodies of children as young as 2 months old. He gave the victims’ names, and described in detail that is likely too vivid even for modern journalism the “hands and arms of these little ones … scarred and burned to the bone” from the flames of the intentionally set fire that destroyed the tent colony.

100 years ago: An African-American UMWA miner in the Ludlow tent city has some fun in the midst of struggle.

The winter of 1913-1914 in Colorado was particularly harsh; huge amounts of snow deluged the miners in their tent cities sometimes. Strikers were forced into tent cities because they were thrown out of company-owned housing when they rebelled against harsh conditions by going on strike.

The badge of this unidentified miner indicates he was a designated guard for the union, whose purpose was to prevent conflict within the ranks and be on the alert against mine guard attacks. With 1000 people in the tent city, it operated like a town. While the company towns in Colorado were segregated, African-American miners were integrated into the tent colonies self-organization. 

Mother Jones was a major force reminding miners that only solidarity across ethnic and racial lines could allow them to win their union. Although it was in the UMWA by-laws, the practice of real solidarity was something fought over every day in the union.

This is one of a series of posts on the events surrounding what became known as the “Ludlow Massacre” 100 years ago.

Source: Mother Jones Lives


Max Markuson’s interview with Dr. Fawn-Amber Montoya, Assistant Professor of History and Coordinator of Chicano Studies, Colorado State University-Pueblo


Woody Guthrie - Ludlow Massacre

This labor day, read about the Ludlow Massacre.

wikipedia / the new yorker (2009) / the new yorker (2014) / excerpt from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States
the Ludlow Massacre

“The Ludlow Massacre resulted in the violent deaths of 19 peopleduring an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914. The deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women and eleven children were asphyxiated and burned to death. Three union leaders and two strikers were killed by gunfire, along with one child, one passer-by, and one National Guardsman. In response, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard.”

[Read more about the Ludlow Massacre here.]

White People Problems (some)

I read somewhere on Tumblr that “country music is music about white people problems”. Ok, that is mostly true. But there is more to country then “got drunk, my truck died down, my dog died and my wife left me.”

Listen to the song above. It is folk, maybe not ‘country’ by some sense of the word, but folk and country have a lot of similarities, similar origins, etc. The point here is that there is a rich tradition of working class resistance told in this genre of music.

Ok, how many of you who critique folk, bluegrass or country music know about the Ludlow Massacre of 1913?

Miners in Colorado, working in some of the deadliest mines (from 1884 to 1912 1,700 miners died), getting paid shit and forced to live in company towns, where their lives were run by company managers, with their laws enforced by thugs with machine guns, decided to strike.

Workers were immediately kicked out of their homes, and thus set up a tent camp near the mines. The capitalists used hired thugs from the “Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency” who would randomly shoot at the tents (bear in mind families lived in the tents) and had armoured cars with machine guns attached.

The miners resisted the attacks and the National Guard was called in. The miners resisted them too. Eventually, thugs in National Guard uniforms laid siege to the camp and a firefight broke out that lasted a day. 19 people were murdered, including women and children.

After this, there was a ten day long guerrilla war between miners, union activists and the capitalist thugs. This was all in the mountainous country of Colorado. President Wilson had to send in federal troops to end the warfare. Reports range from 69 to 199 people dead from the fighting. It was the most violent labor conflict in U.S. history.

The UMWA ran out of money, the workers still called for a union but failed. Hundreds were cattled up and arrested. In alot of ways, the story ends with tragedy.

Yeah, country music is pretty much white. But lets not allow ourselves to fall into academic identity politics. If we want to be revolutionaries, we have to understand all the contradictions of the people. And white people are still people (some of them). There is a very rich history of militant as fuck resistance by whites to capitalism in the U.S. that this country wants you to ignore. But music, as a collective historical archive, preserves those struggles. Country music, folk music, just like blues for the Blacks, has told those stories.

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Country music might be music about white people’s problems, but some of those problems might be problem’s you have too. Some of those problems might be about resisting capital with your comrades, many of whom are murdered, which leads to a guerrilla war lasting 10 days in Colorado’s mountain ranges in 1913.


Woody Guthrie - Ludlow Massacre

Refers to the violent deaths of 20 people, 11 of them children, during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families inLudlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914

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Who was Mother Jones? This caught my attention when I was watching the video above, it’s about the Ludlow Massacre. The women protesters near the end of the video are holding up signs that mention, “Mother Jones” and while I am familiar with the magazine I did not realize it was named after a real woman. 

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Mother Jones (1837–1930)

Usually dressed in black dress, white lace collar and black hat,  five-foot tall fighter for workers’ rights once labeled “the most dangerous woman in America” by a U.S. district attorney. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones rose to prominence as a fearless organizer for the Mine Workers during the first two decades of the 20th century. Her voice had great carrying power, and her passion inspired men and women half her age into action. 

Mother Jones’ organizing methods were unique for her time. She welcomed African American workers and involved women and children in strikes. She organized miners’ wives into teams armed with mops and brooms to guard the mines against scabs. She staged parades with children carrying signs that read, “We Want to Go to School and Not to the Mines.”

Born Mary Harris in Cork County, Ireland, the woman who would become Mother Jones immigrated to North America with her family as a child to escape the Irish famine. She spent her early years in Canada training to be a dressmaker and teacher. Historians are uncertain about her year of birth anywhere between 1830 and 1844.

In her early 20s, she  worked as a dressmaker in Memphis, Tenn., where she met and married George Jones, a skilled iron molder and staunch unionist. A yellow fever epidemic in 1867, took the lives of Mary’s husband and all four children.

Mary moved to Chicago and returned to commercial dressmaking,  opened her own shop, patronized by some of the wealthiest women in town. According to one account of her life, Mary’s interest in the union movement grew when she sewed for wealthy Chicago families. “I would look out of the plate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front,” she said. “The tropical contrast of their condition with that of the tropical comfort of the people for whom I sewed was painful to me. My employers seemed neither to notice nor to care.”

Tragedy struck Mary again when she lost everything in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. After the fire, Mary began to travel across the country. The nation was undergoing dramatic change, and industrialization was changing the nature of work. She moved from town to town in support of workers’ struggles. In Kansas City, she did  work for a group of unemployed men who marched on Washington, D.C. to demand jobs. In Birmingham, Ala., she helped miners during a nationwide coal strike. Mary organized a massive show of support for Eugene Debs, the leader of the American Railway Union, after he served a six-month prison sentence for defying a court order not to disrupt railroad traffic in support of striking Pullman workers.

In June 1897, after Mary addressed the railway union convention, she began to be referred to as “Mother” by the men of the union. The name stuck. She became “Mother Jones” to millions of working men and women across the country for her efforts on behalf of the miners.

Mother Jones was so effective the Mine Workers sent her into the coalfields to sign up miners with the union. Nearly anywhere coal miners, textile workers or steelworkers were fighting to organize a union, Mother Jones was there.

She was banished from more towns and was held incommunicado in more jails in more states than any other union leader of the time. In 1912, she was even charged with a capital offense by a military tribunal in West Virginia and held under house arrest for weeks until popular outrage forced the governor to release her.

Mother Jones was deeply affected by the “machine-gun massacre” in Ludlow, Colo., when National Guardsmen raided a tent colony of striking miners and their families killing 20 people mostly women and children. She traveled across the country, telling the story, and testified before the U.S. Congress.

In addition to miners, Mother Jones also was very concerned about child workers. During a silk strike in Philadelphia, which including 16,000 children, left their jobs over a demand that their workweek be cut from 60 to 55 hours. To attract attention to the cause of abolishing child labor, in 1903 she led a children’s march of 100 children from the textile mills of Philadelphia to New York City “to show the New York millionaires our grievances.” She led the children all the way to President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island home.

In her 80s, Mother Jones settled down near Washington, D.C. in 1921 but continued to travel across the country. In 1924, although unable to hold a pen between her fingers, she made her last strike appearance in Chicago in support of striking dressmakers, hundreds of whom were arrested and black-listed during their ill-fated four month-long struggle. She died in Silver Spring, Md., possibly at age 100.

(BillMoyers&Co)  US Workers Were Once Massacred Fighting for the Protections Being Rolled Back Today ions Being Rolled Back Today

On April 20, 1914, the Colorado National Guard and a private militia employed by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I) opened fire on a tent camp of striking coal miners at Ludlow, Colo. At least 19 people died in the camp that day, mostly women and children.

A century later, the bloody incident might seem a relic of the distant past, but the Ludlow Massacre retains a powerful, disturbing and growing relevance to the present. After a century of struggling against powerful interests to make American workplaces safer and corporations responsive to their employees, the US is rapidly returning to the conditions of rampant exploitation that contributed to Ludlow. (…)

In recent years, American mining companies have undermined the effectiveness of many of these reforms. West Virginia mandates that the state legislature must approve all environmental regulations, making meaningful regulation all but impossible. The companies managed to influence the scientific testing of black lung claims. Miners suffering from black lung need to have their cases confirmed by doctors, but a single pro-coal scientist at Johns Hopkins University denied all 1,500 cases he saw between 2000 and 2013. After the Center for Public Integrityexposed this travesty — winning a Pulitzer Prize in the process — Johns Hopkins suspended its black lung testing program.