ON APRIL 1-2, 2023, the Pennsylvania Labor History Society and Battle of Homestead Foundation presented a two-day historical conference 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.
The weekend contained lectures, music, monument tours and service award ceremonies celebrating the epic miners’ strike and a community’s anti-Klan resistance. The full schedule of events is here.
ALL EVENTS were videotaped by documentary filmmaker and BHF board member Pauline Greenlick. The links are below:
April 1. Singer-songwriter Tom Breiding opened the weekend with a concert set celebrating American Labor History. Tom Breiding is the official Musician-in-Residence for the United Mine Workers of America.
April 1. “Women in Coal and Steel” panel with Steffi Domike, Kipp Dawson, Amy Niehouse.
April 1. “John Brophy and Labor Education” panel featuring Elizabeth Ricketts, Nick Molnar, Sterling Maystorovich, Jan Lohmann.
April 1. “Eastern Europeans and American Labor History” featuring Dr. Charles McCollester, Ken Wolensky, Nick Molnar honoring Dr. Millie Beik. ALSO INCLUDED – The Pennsylvania Labor History Society annual awards presentation: The Irwin Marcus Labor Education Award to John Lepley (USW Education Department); Bill Sylvis Labor Organizer Award to Amy Niehouse (SEIU and ALF-CIO); Mother Jones Award to Kipp Dawson (UMW and PFT).
April 2. “A Vote is a Fire Escape: The Untold Story of How Women Took the Vote” panel featuring Thomas Mardula, Chuck Knisell, Dr. Jacqui Cavalier.
April 2. “The Struggle of Women and African Americans in the Workplace” and “The Attack by the KKK on the Community of Lilly” featuring Rosemary Trump, Kipp Dawson, Joe Szalanski.
April 2. Presentation of the Alice Hoffman Community Service Award to Thomas Mardula and a panel featuring Nick Molnar, Bev Mandichak, Garnell Washington discussing the April 5, 1924 Anti-Klan Riot in Lilly, Pennsylvania.
The Somerset County borough of Windber was the site of the 1922-23 United Mine Workers strike for union recognition, the first nationwide 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.
Twenty miles to the northeast in Cambria County, the borough of Lilly was the scene of what historians have called 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
• Newspaper article: “Speakers: 1924 Lilly KKK riot an important piece of history, relevant to today” by Dave Sutor, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Apr. 3, 2023
• Podcast from Labor History Today featured highlights of the April 1 sessions.
HEAR A PODCAST about the weekend on “Labor History Today” by Chris Garlock.