On April 1 and 2, 2023, the Pennsylvania Labor History Society and Battle of Homestead Foundation present a two-day gathering commemorating the 1922-23 United Mine Workers strike based in Windber, PA and the 1924 street battle between citizens of Lilly, PA and the Ku Klux Klan.
These centennial recognitions of headline events from the 1920s mark decisive turning points in America’s progress toward religious tolerance and union rights and are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
On Sat. Apr. 1, the 1922-23 United Mine Workers strike for union recognition will be discussed at a gathering of the Pennsylvania Labor History Society in Windber’s Slovak Educational Club, 1300 Jackson Avenue. Panels include “Women in Coal and Steel”, “John Brophy and Labor Education” and “Eastern Europeans and American Labor History”. Labor singer/songwriter Tom Breiding will perform, and recipients will be named for the Society’s annual Mother Jones Award, Irwin Marcus Worker Education Award and William Sylvis Labor Award.
The 1922-23 strike was the first natiowide walkout by both anthracite and bituminous miners, with more than 600,000 miners demanding better wages, improved safety conditions, the right to collective bargaining and legal protection from the systemic corporate violence and intimidation that pervaded company-run coal towns across the U.S.
On Sun. Apr. 2, twenty miles to the northeast in Cambria County, the borough of Lilly will commemorate what historians have dubbed the Lilly Anti-Klan Riot — the evening of Apr. 5, 1924 when local citizens forcibly prevented an armed contingent of 400 hooded Ku Klux Klan members from entering town and terrorizing the town’s immigrant population. The Lilly riot was among the most publicized of the decade’s many civil disturbances in which small-town inhabitants vigorously pushed back against the Klan’s anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic incursions.
Panels held at the Lilly Community Center/Library, 101 Memorial Drive, include “A Vote is a Fire Escape – the Untold Story of How Women took the Vote”, “The Struggle of Women and African Americans in the Workplace” and “The Attack by the KKK on the Community of Lilly”. Musician Jason Kendall will perform, and there will be a tour of Lilly’s several historical monuments.