Madeleine Kahle- Reflection on the Movie Matewan

The movie Matewan was based off of the historical Mine Wars that occurred during the 1920s. It included many of the key subjects discussed through many of the texts and videos that were included in this week’s readings and videos. This included, but is not limited to: civil rights/ racism, unions, religion, music, and of course coal mining. During this time the people of the Appalachia depended heavily on coal mining for revenue, however that became a profession that was not only difficult on the men who worked in the mines, but also their families who had to live in the coal camps with them. They depended heavily on religion and music to bring the people together and bring hope to their hearts.

Racism is one of the first things that is made evident in this movie as the white men of the coal mining town attack the newly arrived black men before they even get into the town limits. Soon after one of the main characters, Joe, is introduced. He has come to the town with hopes of unionizing the coal miners as he has done with other mine towns across the Appalachia before. Even though Joe sees that racism is prominent  in the area he uses this to his advantage and uses this issue as an entry point to his big goal of unionization. Throughout the movie you see that the people start to join together through both song and praise as they join together to fight back against the coal company thugs.

Even though this story is fictional, it is still based off of historical events. The large majority of this movie and Appalachian history was based in a time period of harsh times, civil rights movements, and individual acts of one’s betterment. I thoroughly enjoyed watching and reviewing this film as it helped me to better visualize what I was reading in our texts.

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