The Strike of the Eastover Mine Workers in the Movie, Harlan County USA

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The Academy Award winning movie Harlan County USA is an emotional depiction of the events that surrounded the strike of the Eastover Mine workers in 1973. Barbara Kopple directs a moving film and gives an up close in-depth look into the struggle for a livable wage, healthcare that covers the ailments that arise from mine work and safer working conditions. While all of these were issues raised by the striking workers; they were also striking for respect as human beings, an upgrade to the only way of life they knew, and hope for their future. Most men understood that their family’s destiny was deeply rooted in coal and since leaving was unlikely, they would be best served by allowing the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) to represent them instead of the company friendly Southern Labor Union (SLU). “Which side are you on” is a song written to explain that the issue is as simple as black or white, left or right and right or wrong. There is no doubt which side the film is created from and the position is justified. Kopple makes no apology for the one-sidedness of her documentary. Kopple said “We’re pro-union, this is a story about the union, and this is the way it is from our point of view.” The grievances of the miners were just and needed to be addressed. She does an excellent job of creating sympathy and empathy for the deserving strikers and their families. To understand why the miners decided to strike is to understand Appalachia. A young boy growing up in Harlan

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