Hazel Dickens was a West Virginia girl, with deep roots in the mountains there.
During much of the 20th century, urban and suburban America mocked the “hillbillies” of Southern Appalachia, while simultaneously benefiting from cheap Appalachian coal.
And while much of the USA laughed or stared aghast at fare such as “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “Deliverance“, leather tough mountain women were trying to raise families left fatherless by black lung disease, and entire mountain communities were left with a “choice” between starvation poverty, or just poverty – earning a pittance while Big Business ripped the entire tops off the mountains for the enrichment of energy company shareholders.
A lot of mountain folks stood up against the rapacious coal companies, trusting in their unions to do right by them.
As if fighting the bought politicians and coal companies wasn’t hard enough, many mining families were soon introduced to the corruption of certain union bosses.
Bosses so corrupt that they would order murder hits on honest political opponents, AND THEIR FAMILIES, without blinking an eye.
So in the age of Nixon, Woodstock, Kent State, hippies, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, “laughable” mountain folks had to rely on the voices and songs of their own people.
Voices like that of Hazel Dickens, who only left this world in 2011.
If I were in the trenches, I’d take one woman like this over ten or two dozen January 6th wannabe American heroes.
Clarksville, Pennsylvania is not too far from here
Coal miners were hoping for a brighter New Year
But for Jock Yablonski, his daughter, and wife
The New Year brought an ending to their precious lives
Well it’s cold blooded murder friends, I’m talking about
Now who’s gonna stand up and who’s gonna fight?
You better clean up that union, put it on solid ground
Get rid of that dirty trash, that keeps a working man down
Well death bells were ringing, Jock knew very well
That’s stolen union money, and Jock just had to tell
‘Cause he wouldn’t take part in their dirty plans
So he paid with his life to help all mining men
Well Jock Yablonski was a coal miner’s friend
He fought for the rights of the working man
He begged the law to protect him, but they turned him down
Now Jock, his wife and daughter all lay beneath the ground
Oh Lord the poor miner, will his fight never end?
They’ll abuse even murder him to further their plans
Oh where is his victory how will it stand?
It’ll stand when poor working men all join hands