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“Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers.”
Thursday, June 8 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Film and discussion with Tony Buba, local film producer, who has chronicled the industrial racism and other hardships faced by workers in the mill towns along the Monongahela like Braddock. This film is based on interviews with over 70 African-American workers whose stories have never been told before.
When a local television station did a program about the closing of the major steel mills in the Pittsburgh region, Ray Henderson, a former mill worker who had worked in the mills for 18 years, couldn’t help but notice that not one black worker was shown. This despite the fact that African-American workers had formed a critical part of the labor force in western Pennsylvania for 125 years.
With his old friend and independent filmmaker Tony Buba, Henderson set out to collaborate on a history of African-Americans and their contributions not just to the steel industry, but to the labor movement itself. Through eloquent living witnesses and revelatory archival footage, Struggles In Steel presents a striking counterpoint to the stereotypical black male image.
Struggles In Steel premiered at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, has played in major festivals in the United States, and screened at FESPACO in Burkina Faso in West Africa – the largest African film festival in the world. In addition, Struggles In Steel was awarded a 1999 Silver Baton, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.
The documentary, for which Henderson serves as a narrator, traces his personal experiences with discrimination in the mill. Henderson also became the head of the local NAACP and, as the industry began to decline, he asked “my high school buddy, Tony Buba” to help record the experiences of other black steel workers.