Press Releases


2019 Press Releases


Labor History Events in August to Focus on Legacies of Martyred Labor Organizer Fannie Sellins; Irish Presbyterians
For Immediate Release: August 6, 2019
Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com
Pittsburgh, PA ― The Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF) will join the United Mineworkers and the United Steelworkers in honoring Fannie Sellins, a labor martyr who was brutally murdered by deputies 100 years ago in Natrona on the eve of a United Mineworkers strike. The commemoration activities will be held throughout the day on August 26, the anniversary of Sellins’ martyrdom, in three locations in Ducktown, Natrona Heights; Brackenridge; and Arnold, where Sellins is buried.
“Fannie Sellins is one of the most important labor martyrs in Western Pennsylvania history, which is saying a lot,” BHF President John Haer said. “Her murder, along with that of miner Joseph Strzelecki, galvanized workers throughout the region and strengthened the mine workers’ resolve to strike the Allegheny Coal and Coke Company. She was another forceful figure like Mother Jones ― both widows who became involved in labor struggles across various industries ―but unlike Jones, Sellins was tragically cut down in the prime of life.”
Participants will gather to remember Sellins at three Allegheny Valley locations: 1) Ducktown, Natrona Heights (at 2:00 pm), where striking miners rallied and where Sellins was shot and killed in 1919; 2) Brackenridge, at the USW Local 1196 Union Hall (1080 Brackenridge Avenue), where there will be speeches from Fred Redmond, International Vice President USW; Levi Allen, International Secretary-Treasurer UMW; Steffi Domike of BHF and the USW; and others about Fannie’s relevance today (beginning at 3:00 pm, and a dinner at 5:00 pm); and 3) the Union Cemetery in Arnold, PA, at the Fannie Sellins and Joe Strazeleski gravesite to pray for the dead, and where speakers will include Rick Bloomingdale, PA AFL-CIO; Tanya James, UMW International Auditor/Teller; Ed Yankovich, UMW International VP, District 2 emeritus; and music by Tom Breiding (6:45 pm, 2030 Freeport Rd). 

Also this month, on Saturday, August 17, BHF will present a book talk on “Pittsburgh’s ‘Other’ Irish: Before the Robber Barons” by Dr. Peter Gilmore, who will discuss his recent books Irish Presbyterians and the Shaping of Western Pennsylvania 1770–1830 and Exiles of ’98: Ulster Presbyterians in the US, at 1:30 pm at the Historic Pump House (880 E. Waterfront Dr.) in Munhall. Gilmore will discuss an earlier time when Pittsburgh’s Irish were mostly Presbyterians whose religious beliefs actually discouraged them from the pursuit of wealth for its own sake, unlike the Scotch-Irish robber barons who would follow.  

“These are probably both topics that are still relatively unknown to many people living in Western PA,” Haer said. “Yet the legacies of both Sellins and the region’s Irish Presbyterians are hugely important and affect our communities today in numerous ways.”
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Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 25, 2019
For more information, contact:
Danielle Maggio, Associate Producer
Phone: 412.777.3720 Email: dam217@pitt.edu

John Haer, President, Battle of Homestead Foundation
Phone: 412.478-5907 Email: johnhaer1@gmail.com

Battle of Homestead Foundation presents the Homestead premier of
BETTY – THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT on the Queen of Funk’s 75th Birthday
Friday, July 26, 2019

EVENING SCREENING OF BETTY – THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT

  • Q&A W/ ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, DANIELLE MAGGIO
    7pm-8:30pm, AMC Waterfront 22
    $30 General Admission – Includes admission to film + after party with complimentary appetizers & live DJ entertainment.
    $50 VIP Admission (50 seats available) – Includes admission to film, reserved luxury seating, autographed Betty Davis photo, gift bag, admission to after party, complimentary appetizers, live DJ entertainment & one drink ticket.
    QUEEN OF FUNK AFTER PARTY W/ DJ ANTHONY SUSAN [GET DOWN GANG]
    8:30pm-11:30pm, Sing Sing/Rock Bottom at The Waterfront
    $20 After Party ONLY – Includes admission to after party ONLY with complimentary appetizers & live DJ entertainment
    Proceeds from these events benefit the Battle of Homestead Foundation, a non-profit, charitable, educational organization.
  • About the Events – Join us as we celebrate Homestead resident, Queen of Funk, Betty Davis on her 75th birthday! A merchandise table will be set up with CDs, LPs, photos and accessories. Enter a raffle to win an autographed film poster by the Queen of Funk herself! After the film, enjoy a talk back and Q&A with Associate Producer of the film, Danielle Maggio. After the film, stroll over to Sing Sing/Rock Bottom at The Waterfront (5 minute walk from theatre) and get up and get down to a funky dance party with DJ Anthony Susan [Get Down Gang]. Enjoy complimentary appetizers, a full bar, and a live DJ set of soul, funk, r&b, disco + more!
  • About Betty Davis – Funk Queen Betty Davis changed the landscape for female artists in America. She “was the first…” as former husband Miles Davis said— “Madonna before Madonna, Prince before Prince.” An aspiring songwriter from Homestead, PA, Betty arrived on the 70’s scene to break boundaries for Black women with her daring personality, iconic fashion and outrageous funk music. She befriended Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, wrote songs for the Chambers Brothers and the Commodores, and married Miles – startlingly turning him from jazz to funk on the album she named Bitches Brew. She then went on to become the first Black woman to write, produce, perform and manage herself, paving the way for Black women in the music industry. Betty was a feminist pioneer, inspiring and intimidating in a manner like no woman before. After three hard-hitting funk albums, and years of being banned and boycotted by the press and mainstream culture, Betty retreated from the public in the early 1980s and moved back to her hometown of Homestead, Pennsylvania.
  • About the Film – After years of trying, the elusive Betty, finally allowed the filmmakers to creatively tell her story. The result is a documentary that tells the story of an artistic innovator and progressive social figure whose aesthetic ideas and practices, although marginalized during the1970s, are now celebrated in mainstream popular music. Made in accordance with Betty herself, this is the first artistic project that shines a light on one of the most pioneering and controversial musicians from the 1970s. Composed around Betty’s song lyrics, interviews, animations and a creative narrative, Betty finally shares her extraordinary story – including her short marriage to Miles Davis, befriending Jimi Hendrix and her 35 year disappearance. Creatively blending documentary and animation this movie traces the path of Betty’s life, how she grew from humble upbringings to become a fully self-realized Black female pioneer the world failed to understand or appreciate for several decades.
  • About the Battle of Homestead Foundation – The Battle of Homestead Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization of citizens, workers, educators, artists and historians. Its purpose is to preserve, interpret, and promote a people’s history focused on the significance of the dramatic labor conflict at Homestead, Pennsylvania in 1892.
  • Reviews of the Film:
    The New Yorker “The Artful, Erotic, and Still Misunderstood Funk of Betty Davis”
    The New York Times “Betty Davis Was a Raw Funk Pioneer. Her Decades of Silence Are Over.”
    The Stranger “One of Funk’s Biggest Freaks Comes Out of Hiding”
    Cultural Critique on Betty Davis:
    The Guardian “Cult heroes: Betty Davis – blistering funk pioneer and fearless female artist”
    AFROPUNK “We Need To Talk About Betty Davis”
  • Purchase tickets through Eventbrite! Search for “Betty Davis”
    Visit us on Facebook for ticket link or at www.battleofhomestead.org
    The Battle of Homestead Foundation is exempt from Federal Income Tax Revenue Code Section 501©(3). All contributions are deductible from federal taxes under section 170 of the IRA code.

For Immediate Release: June 6, 2019

Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1gmail.com


Pittsburgh, PA ― The Battle of Homestead Foundation will feature a keynote presentation and discussion in June on the importance of collaboration and partnership between organized labor and environmental activists. The event, “Labor and Environmental Coalitions: A Must for Survival of Both,” will take place this Saturday, June 8 at 1:30 pm at the Historic Pump House (880 E. Waterfront Dr.) in Munhall.
“It is imperative that the labor and environmental movements work together to confront the challenge of climate change head-on,” BHF President John Haer said. “It’s a problem that’s already affecting millions of Americans through increasingly common severe storms, flooding, droughts, fires, and other disasters. Now is the time to push for a transition to a green economy that will create jobs ― good union jobs ― while hopefully providing us with a chance to avert global catastrophe.”
The event will feature Keynote Speaker Joe Uehlein, President of the Labor Network for Sustainability. Uehlein previously served as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department, and as Director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns. He also served on the United Nations’ first commission on global warming from its inception in 1988 until 2003. Joe started his trade union work at an aluminum extrusion mill in Mechanicsburg, PA as a member of the United Steel Workers (USW), and then worked highway construction as a member of the Laborers Union, LiUNA, Local 158 in Central Pennsylvania.
A discussion will follow Joe Uehlein’s presentation, featuring Chris Petrone, Legislative Director for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66; Rosemary Bezy, Vice-President, USW Local 1557, US Steel Clairton Works; Eva Resnick-Day, Community Organizer with the Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100” Campaign to bring Pittsburgh to 100 percent renewable clean energy; and Tina Doose, President of the Braddock Borough Council.
The event comes just months after a fire at the Clairton Coke Works and its resulting air pollution ― and a contentious public hearing ― brought local tensions around labor and environmental issues to the fore. But it also follows in the wake of the introduction of the Green New Deal, a major congressional proposal to address climate change while stimulating job creation and transitioning away from fossil fuels.
“This is a do or die moment,” event organizer and retired steelworker Mike Stout said. “We either work together toward the common goal of collective survival, or time is going to run out very quickly for the human race, and the planet.”
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Pump House Events in Early May Will Take On the Outrage of Family Separation at the Border

For Immediate Release: April 19, 2019
Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com

Pittsburgh, PA ― Two events at the Historic Pump House in early May will deal with US government policies that have separated children from their parents at the US-Mexico border. The events on May 2nd and 4th, organized by the Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF), will follow May Day demonstrations around the US, including in Pittsburgh, to tout immigrant workers’ importance to the US labor force and show solidarity for immigrant working families. The events also come just as policy debates are putting harsh anti-immigration and anti-asylum policies back in the spotlight.

“Immigration has always been a labor issue here in the US,” BHF president John Haer said. “From the earliest US immigrants from Northern Europe through the waves of people coming from Southern and Eastern European who emigrated to Western Pennsylvania and organized some of the most important labor campaigns in US history, immigrants have played a major role in the US labor movement. Along the way, their collective actions have often lifted up their native-born brothers and sisters, gaining better working conditions and pay for all.”

On Thursday, May 2, the Battle of Homestead Foundation will screen “Separated: Children at the Border,” a PBS Frontline documentary film about the history of immigration policy under both the Obama and Trump administrations. It focuses on what happened to Central American families whose children were forcibly separated from their parents and other relatives at the border. (Thursday, May 2, 7:00 pm, at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210. Admission is free and the Pump House is wheelchair accessible. For more information, see https://battleofhomestead.org/)

On Saturday, May 4, the Battle of Homestead Foundation will host the discussion program, “Family Separation at the Border: Its Impact on Pittsburgh, a ‘Welcoming City.’” This program addresses the important role immigrants have played and continue to play in our nation’s history, culture, and work force, and will focus on the current U.S. immigration policy that makes it difficult for Central American immigrants to seek asylum in the U.S. Like other immigrants before them, today’s immigrants are searching for a better life, freedom from violence, and economic security. Speakers will include Monica Ruiz, Executive Director of the Casa San Jose Center in Pittsburgh, and a powerful advocate for Latinos on legal, housing, development, and educational issues; and Guillermo Perez, United Steelworkers Labor Educator and Founder and President, Pittsburgh Chapter of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). (Saturday, May 4, 1:30 pm, at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210. Admission is free. For more information, see https://battleofhomestead.org/)

“We’re honored to host immigrant advocates like Ruiz and Perez and to express working class solidarity with our sisters and brothers coming to the US to seek asylum, or simply seeking the ‘American dream’ as so many of our ancestors did,” Haer said.

BHF is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF, along with others, has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.

For more information: mail@battleofhomestead.orgbattleofhomestead.org. Twitter: @HomesteadFdn. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homestead1892/.


Battle of Homestead Foundation 2019 Events Will Focus on Important Labor History Centenary

Historic Steel Strike and Murder of Organizer Fannie Sellins Were Landmark 1919 Events

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2019
Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com

Pittsburgh, PA ― The Battle of Homestead Foundation’s events series this year will examine the importance of landmark labor history events that occurred 100 years ago and their lasting relevance for today. A launch event in April will provide context for the turbulent year that was 1919, which saw labor and class strife, with a massive steel strike and the murder of labor organizer Fannie Sellins in Natrona Heights just before the strike began.

“The year 1919 saw greatly important events in US labor history,” BHF President John Haer said. “Certainly, in Western Pennsylvania none more so than the steel strike and the brutal murder of Fannie Sellins, who instantly became a martyr to the cause.”

BHF will begin its events season with “1919: Bridges from History” on April 25, a discussion featuring historians Eric Leif DavinCharles McCollesterJacqueline Cavalier, and Howard Scott, who will employ their extensive research and experience to spotlight the turbulent post-war era of 1919 USA. Among the many lasting developments of the time, they will touch on the Suffragette movement; immigrants’ struggle for labor and civil rights; the Great Migration North of Black Americans;  wartime unions; strikes; and radicalism and resistance to capitalism. (Thursday, April 25 @ 7:00 pm, the Historic Pump House, 880 East Waterfront Drive Munhall, PA 15120. FREE.)

“With the armistice ending the First World War, signed November 11, 1918, manufacturing demand fell and unemployment swelled. Social pressures already exacerbated by wartime labor practices, inflation and postwar corporate repression of unions, only deepened as economic activity slowed,” historian and BHF board member Charlie McCollester writes at the BHF website. These and other pivotal events set the stage for the labor unrest that would erupt toward fall.

Events to mark the assassination of Fannie Sellins are being organized around the centennial in August. Other events this season will examine current struggles of immigrants in the Trump era, labor and environment coalitions, the Pittsburgh Irish Presbyterian community, and cultural events featuring music and theater (including the April 27 one-woman show, “Mrs. Shakespeare: Will’s First and Last Love,” written, compiled and performed by Yvonne Hudson, 2:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 East Waterfront Drive Munhall, PA 15120, free admission).

BHF is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.

For more information: battleofhomestead@gmail.com

Twitter: @HomesteadFdn.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homestead1892/.