By Bishop Paul V. Marshall, September 2009
[This is Bishop Paul Marshall's September 2009 column for secular newspapers throughout our 14 counties. It is published by The Morning Call, Allentown, on the first Saturday of every month. It usually appears also in ten additional papers. The combined circulation of papers that publish the column regularly is more than 400,000. Some 140 columns have been published over the past 13 years. If your paper does not publish the column and you would consider bringing it to the attention of the editor, please email Bill Lewellis, email@example.com]
A monument to Mother Jones stands at the corner of Route 209 and First Street in Coaldale, Schuylkill County. Politicians dubbed her the “most dangerous woman in America” – when she was 83. In the coal regions she is remembered somewhat differently.
The Coaldale monument (one of those blue highway markers) recalls Mother Jones leading a march of 2,000 wives and mothers from McAdoo to Coaldale in support of striking miners. This unsuccessful strike of 1900 led to the great strike in 1902.
Mother Jones worked for better conditions for miners and their families for 50 years. President Theodore Roosevelt had reasons not to care for her: she led a march of children from Philadelphia to his Oyster Bay home protesting child labor. Their placards – “We want to go to school, not to the mines” – suitably embarrassed the president, but he would not meet with the marchers.
They went back to their miserable existence leading mules, operating doors, and sorting coal in the breakers. Mother Jones kept on working for children. Her subsequent children’s marches prompted the U. S. Senate to investigate child labor.
Up and down the Appalachians, Mary Harris Jones spoke for, was jailed for, and worked for miners seeking improvements in their working conditions that you and I would consider minimal at best.
Read the rest here.