Tuesday, April 15, 2014

West Virginia Mine Wars Show at Daemen

 

Saro Lynch-Thomason, leads marchers in singing "Hold On" during the 2011 March to Blair, a re-enactment of the 1921 March on Blair Mountain

By Penny Messinger

 
On April 2, artist and labor activist Saro Lynch-Thomason treated a Daemen audience to the story of labor activism in West Virginia in the early 20th century. The show combined spoken word narration with Saro's vocal performance accompanied by the mountain dulcimer, while archival images brought the story to life. The show emphasized the intersection between labor activism and efforts to save the environment of the Southern Appalachians, showing how the site of a major event in labor history is endangered by the current practices of the mining industry. A story about the show appeared in the April 14th edition of The Daemen Voice.

The range of music in the show reflected the ethnic and racial diversity in mining communities of a century ago. Contrary to perceptions of Appalachia's residents, miners were a diverse lot. Along with native-born mountaineers, the mining work force included large numbers of African-Americans (both from the region and from other parts of the South) and immigrants, many of them recent arrivals from southern Europe. This diversity was evident in the images of miners, as well as in the range of music included in the show: labor songs, traditional ballads, an Italian exile anthem, folk songs from the African-American miners, and religious hymns. 

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Saro concluded the show by discussing Blair Mountain, WV, which had appeared in the show as the site of a major conflict between striking miners and coal operators in 1921. Threatened by mountaintop removal coal mining, Blair Mountain has been a rallying point for historians and environmentalists who point to the mountain's historical significance, which will be destroyed if the coal companies are allowed to proceed with plans to mine the location. "Blair Mountain has a good chance of being saved," Lynch-Thomason explained, both because of its historical significance and because of the declining value of the coal that is layered in the mountain. She emphasized ways that those in attendance can act to preserve Blair Mountain. She also talked about her book, Lone Mountain, a children's book about mountaintop removal. Her watercolor illustrations were on display during the show. 


Artwork from Lone Mountain Book Project: A Children's Book about Mountaintop Removal

You can learn more and find resources for taking action to save Blair Mountain at the Blair Pathways website, and the I Love Mountains web portal. 

The performance was sponsored by the History & Political Science Department, the Offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, the Division of Arts & Sciences, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the Department of Modern Languages, and the Program in Global and Local Sustainability.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Women's History Month Lecture--on Henrietta Lacks

Dr. Serife Tekin, "Medicine & Identity: Lessons from Henrietta Lacks"

Friday, March 21, from 12:20-1:15 pm (DS236)




Henrietta Lacks, ca. 1950

Henrietta Lacks was a working-class African-American woman who died from cervical cancer in 1951, aged 31. Cells from her cancerous tumor gave rise to HeLa, the first human immortal cell line.

HeLa has made possible countless medical discoveries and scientific advancements, but Lacks’ story raises disturbing ethical questions:

      Is it ethical to use human subjects without consent?

      How did Lacks’ intersectional identity—as an African American woman from a low-income background—shape the ways in which she and her descendants were wronged in the medical context?

Join Dr. Tekin and her students and contribute to this important discussion of race, identity, and medicine. Free & open to the public.



Lecture by Dr. Serife Tekin, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Open classroom event for PHI321: Medical Ethics

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Religion & Daemen Women’s Studies Program


** Pizza and drinks are provided, so you don't have to skip lunch to attend!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Saro Lynch-Thomason's "West Virginia Mine Wars Show": Coming April 2



Saro Lynch-Thomason, (image lonemountainbook.com)

Saro Lynch-Thomason will perform her “West Virginia Mine Wars show” at Daemen College’s Wick Social Room on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, starting at 7:30 pm. Daemen is located at 4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY. Before the show, illustrations from Lynch-Thomason's new (children's) book, Lone Mountain, will be on display in the Social Room. The event is free and open to the public. 


Saro Lynch-Thomason is a ballad singer, artist, folklorist, and labor activist whose West Virginia Mine Wars show grew from her involvement in the Blair Pathways Project, established to preserve Blair Mountain, WV, as an historic site. The "West Virginia Mine Wars show" features Lynch-Thomason narrating the story of the coal wars through historic first-person perspectives, period photographs and music of the era. Her music is a mix of strong solo voice and mountain dulcimer- a traditional instrument of Appalachia. Interspersed with the music and narration is a multi-media backdrop of historical images telling the story of the West Virginia Mine Wars. The performance emphasizes connections with traditional Appalachian culture, labor activism, and coal mining, highlighting the historical significance of Blair Mountain. Lynch-Thomason’s work also addresses the devastating impact of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, sometimes described as “strip mining on steroids,” which has become widespread throughout the Appalachian coal fields. Learn more about the show at the website for Blair Pathways, "The Mine Wars Show."
 


Lynch-Thomason has been deeply engaged in the efforts to preserve Blair Mountain’s history for several years. Her show at Daemen will explore the history and culture surrounding the Mine Wars of the early 1920s through historically accurate images and music from the era. In 2012 Lynch-Thomason produced The Blair Pathways CD, which features some of the music she will perform in her show at Daemen College. On the album, contributors include a range of folk luminaries:  Don Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Stray Birds, Jubal’s Kin, Riley Baugus, and Elizabeth Laprelle, among others. 


L-R: Musician Elizabeth Laprelle, Matewan Chief of Police (and folk hero) Sid Hatfield, banjo, and legendary labor organizer Mary Harris (Mother) Jones. Image from kickstarter.

from the Kickstarter page for the "Blair Pathways CD"

Lynch-Thomason has also recently published a children’s book, Lone Mountain (2014), which emphasizes the connections between the people and the environment of the Southern Appalachian region, explaining how both are endangered by mountaintop removal coal mining. Lynch-Thomason wrote the story and her watercolor paintings illustrate the book. She also coordinated the project and developed lesson plans for use in teaching about the book.



 

For all of the history fans out there, here's a bit of historical background about the West Virginia Mine Wars

These violent conflicts, which took took place during the first three decades of the early 20th century, were the result of miners’ attempts to unionize the bituminous coal fields of southern and central West Virginia, mainly under the leadership of the United Mine Workers (UMW) union. The mining industry had long been notorious for low pay, dangerous work conditions, and squalid living conditions, and circumstances in the Appalachian coal fields were particularly exploitative. Miners, whose ranks included mountaineers, immigrants, and African-Americans, risked their lives on a daily basis working in unsafe mines. Most were paid in scrip, a form of currency redeemable only in stores operated by coal mining companies, and they faced severe restrictions in civil liberties in the company towns where they lived. Confrontations between workers and employers erupted episodically during the 1910s, most notably during the 1912-1913 Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike, where legendary labor organizer Mother Jones delivered fiery speeches to miners and their families, and spent some 3 months in prison on charges of inciting violence.

[mother+jones+with+children.jpg]
Mother (Mary Harris) Jones, supplying shoes for children of WV miners evicted from their homes during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike, ca. 1912. Mother Jones was a fearless labor organizer, renowned for her social justice advocacy in behalf of children. (http://motherjonesmuseum.org/Bibliography.htm)


The unionization effort surged forth again after World War I, reaching a climax during the Logan-Mingo [County] Wars of 1919-1921, which included numerous armed confrontations between miners and the private police forces employed by mine owners. Mine owners also used state and local police forces to combat unionization efforts. Miners saw their struggle in a righteous battle for civil and economic freedom, but mine owners and state authorities viewed the unionization campaign as a rebellious insurgency, and they were often backed by federal authorities who sided with the state government. 



The most famous incidents of the Logan-Mingo Wars included confrontations in 1920-21 in the town of Matewan (commemorated in the award-winning 1987 John Sayles film, “Matewan”) and the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. The Battle of Blair Mountain was the most significant armed engagement in the coal wars. It was also the largest armed labor uprising in American history. During the pitched battle that took place on Blair Mountain in August 1921, an army of miners estimated at upwards of 10,000 battled a force that included thousands of “militiamen” whose ranks included anti-union forces led by Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin and state police troops deployed by WV Governor Morgan. Mine owners used private planes to drop bombs on the miners’ army. After several days of engagement, the confrontation came to an end with the arrival of some 2,000 federal troops.

Today, Blair Mountain Battlefield is an endangered historic site. 

Blair Mountain (at center of photo) is endangered by Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, as illustrated by this 2010 photo from Smithsonian magazine
In 2006, the Blair Mountain was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” Since that time it continues to be endangered, especially after being de-listed as a National Historic Site in a controversial action criticized by historians and preservationists. The site is endangered because the mineral rights beneath it are privately owned, and mining companies want to remove the coal through mountaintop removal coal mining, which will destroy the site, as described in this 2010 article from Smithsonian magazine

Sponsors of "The West Virginia Mine Wars Show" include Daemen's Office of Academic Affairs, Division of Arts & Sciences, Office of Student Affairs, History & Political Science Department, Department of Modern Languages, the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and the Global & Local Sustainability Program.
Please contact Dr. Penny Messinger, Associate Professor of History, with any questions: pmessing @ daemen.edu

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March is Women's History Month at Daemen

(image: smithsonianeducation.org)

All events are free and open to the public. Join us!


Monday, March 3
7:30 -10:00pm Alumni Lounge in Wick Center
“North Country”
The real life story of a single mother who has to confront a system of sexual harassment when she takes a job as a miner in Minnesota. Fine performance by Charlize Theron. Directed by Niki Caro. 
Daemen College Film Series, Commentary by Dr. Penny Messinger, Associate Professor of History

Thursday, March 6
7:00- 8:00 pm, Visual & Performing Arts Center, Room 20, Sr. Jeanne File Room
Beth Hinderliter lecture, “Post Socialist Art in Migration:
Dr. Beth Hinderliter, Associate Professor of Art at Buffalo State College, will address the transition from friendship amongst nations to anti-immigrant riots
Sr. Jeanne File, OSF Memorial Art History Lecture Series

Tuesday, March 18
7:00 – 8:00 pm, Research and Information Commons (RIC), Room 101
Kandace Brill Lombart, “Ruth Stone & Her Daughters:  the Topography of Artistic Collaborations between a Poet, an Artist & a Writer”
Literary scholar Dr. Kandace Lombart explores the literary legacy of renowned poet (and 2009 Pulitzer Prize nominee) Ruth Stone (1915-2011), with emphasis on Stone’s influence on her daughters. Our speaker began her undergraduate education at Daemen, then known as Rosary Hill College.
Co-sponsored by the Daemen College Women’s Studies program and the English Department

Wednesday, March 19
7:00 – 9:45 pm, 107 Schenck Hall
“9 TO 5”
A 1980 comedy starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomblin, and Dolly Parton as office workers serving justice to their boss, a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” (IMDb)
Open classroom for IND269:  Hollywood's America. Sponsor: Dr. Shawn Kelley, Professor of Religion

Friday, March 21
12:20-1:15 pm, 236 Duns Scotus
Dr. Serife Tekin, “Medicine and Identity: Lessons from Henrietta Lacks”
Henrietta Lacks died in 1951 from a malignant cancer, which also gave rise to HeLa, the first human immortal cell line. HeLa has made possible countless medical discoveries, but Lacks’ story raises disturbing ethical questions:  Is it ethical to use human subjects without consent? How did Lacks’ intersectional identity—as an African American woman from a low-income background—shape the ways in which she was wronged in the medical context?
Open classroom for PHI 321: Medical Ethics. Lecture by Dr. Serife Tekin, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
** Refreshments included

Friday, March 28
12:20 – 1:15 pm, V20 Visual & Performing Arts Center
“The Artist Is Present”: film & lecture on Marina Abramovic
“The Artist Is Present” examines the career of Marina Abramovic, a pioneer in the development of performance art. The compelling documentary focuses on her 2010 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, and the accompanying three month performance by the artist.
Open classroom for ART 446: History of Contemporary Art. Lecture by Dr. Laura Sommer, Associate Professor of Art History

Monday, March 31
6:30 to 8:30 pm, Wick Alumni Lounge
The Vagina Monologues
Eve Ensler’s renowned play comes to Daemen, with performances by our students, staff, and faculty! The play has inspired action, including the V-Day movement, which seeks to empower women and to end sexual violence throughout the world. Join us for the performance and stay for a discussion by participants and audience.
Brought to you by Daemen’s Visual & Performing Arts Department & Daemen’s Women’s Studies Program

Coming attraction:

Wednesday, April 16
**time and location TBA on Academic Festival calendar**
This year’s Moot Court Experience at Academic Festival will feature a mock trial and talk back session on sexual harassment. The event is a collaboration between the Pre-Law Student Association (PLSA) and the new American Association of University Women (AAUW) student club.

For more information on these events or for information on pursuing a Women’s Studies Minor at Daemen, please contact Dr. Penny Messinger (pmessing @ daemen.edu).

Monday, March 3, 2014

More Spring 2014 Student Internships


Check out where our History & Political Science Majors are Interning this Spring!

The History and Political Science Department encourages our students to connect theory and practice by pursuing internship opportunities as a pathway toward individual career goals.


Cassandra Sakelos (Political Science, 2014)
Cassandra Sakelos, a Political Science major, is interning at the Office of Child and Family Services in the Native American Services Department.  Cassie chose her internship placement, in part, because of her aspirations to become a lawyer dedicated to the protection of the rights and interests of under-represented minorities and groups.

Cassie writes: "I chose this placement because I wanted to engage in policy review....What initially interested me was that I'd be dealing with both Native American law and state law.  I was intrigued by the Native American judicial system and had done an independent study [focused on the representation of Native American legal interests and rights within the U.S. legal system].

In the Fall 2013 semester, Cassie successfully defended her Senior Thesis Research Project which examined issues of state political capacity in dealing with international drug cartels, utilizing Mexico as a case study. Cassie will graduate in May and is preparing to apply to law school. 

Kadeem Johnson, a Political Science major and General Business Minor in interning with the Buffalo Urban Fellows Program: "I began my internship this February, working in downtown Buffalo at City Hall in the Office of Citizens Services. I and five other interns were assigned to assist with Mayor Bryron Brown's "State of the City" speech where citizens were updated on the City's major progress in infrastructure, crime deterrence, education and job creation. Currently, we are working on two programs being implemented immediately: the National Day of Service on April 1st, followed by the "Beautify Buffalo" initiative, both of which relate to my personal interest in city planning.  I've found this position to be a great opportunity and a unique placement that could not have been obtained without the assistance of the Daemen faculty and [Office of Career Services].

Kadeem also successfully defended his Senior Thesis Research Project last semester.  His project examined the challenges facing the modern Republican Party in light of changing demographics and party polarization. 

Kadeem Johnson (Political Science, 2014) stands on the steps of Buffalo's City Hall Building

To Learn more about internship opportunities, please contact your faculty advisor in the History & Political Science Department or visit the Career Services Office at Daemen College. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Alumna Darcy Fargo is "Making History" in a Career She Loves


Darcy Fargo teaching Boy Scouts about making a newspaper.
 
By Darcy Fargo, B.A., History & Government, 2002
 
I’ve been making history since 2002.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that I’ve done anything amazing with my life. But for the past nearly 12 years, I’ve been creating primary sources.

After graduating from Daemen in 2002 (Bachelor of Arts in History/Government with a major in English), I spent the next nine years working in various positions in the newspaper industry. I worked for The Malone Telegram in the northern-most portion of New York, and I worked for The Punxsutawney Spirit in Punxsutawney, Pa. (of Groundhog Day fame). I worked as a beat reporter, a bureau chief and a news editor. Regardless of my title, I always had some reporting duties.

A newspaper co-worker once said to me, after learning my degree is in History/Government, “do you ever wish you had pursued a career in your field? I mean, you’re a writer, but you don’t really do anything involving history.”

I almost choked on my coffee.

In college, I distinctly remember taking Historical Methods, a course focused on researching primary sources. We spent hours sifting through census records, taking oral histories, and exploring newspaper articles on microfiche. I took government courses, focused on the structure and rules of governing and legislation. I took criminal justice courses that taught me how to read and understand court rulings and the law.

As a reporter, I spent my days copying down witness/participant accounts of happenings. I spent hours in the county clerk’s office researching and printing copies of property records, judgments, liens, lawsuits and other public records to establish a “paper trail” for stories. My life was filled with criminal court and municipal meetings. And I had to make sense of it all. I was a historian. But, for the most part, I was dealing with recent history.

Currently, I’m the Senior Internal Communications Specialist for Alcoa Massena Operations, an aluminum smelter. There, I write for and design the plant newsletter, run a plant-wide television system and oversee several standing committees. Again, I’m creating primary documents.

Last year, Alcoa celebrated its 125th anniversary. Our location is the oldest still in operation. In fact, Alcoa Massena is the longest continuously operating smelter in the world. I work in a building that was commissioned 100 years ago in January.

As part of the anniversary celebration, I was tasked with compiling a special edition newsletter. I spent hours combing through old photographs and slides, and interviewing three- and four-generation Alcoa families. I had the opportunity to give a plant tour to and interview a current employee, her father (a retiree), and her grandmother, who worked in the facility during World War II. I felt like I was talking to a real Rosie the Riveter. I was interacting with history, and I got to share that experience with the remainder of the workforce (then around 1,100 employees) in written form.

My degree in History and Government has served me well. The courses I took at Daemen, and the professors who taught them, taught me to love research, analytical writing and intelligent debate (and anyone who knows me knows I love a good debate). And they gave me the skills I would need to obtain a career I love.
A degree related to history and government can take you to places you wouldn’t imagine, even a job that requires you to wear a hard hat and flame retardant clothing every once in a while.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Spring 2014 Internships

Connecting the Classroom with Experiential Learning

The History and Political Science Department encourages our students to connect theory and practice by pursuing internship opportunities as a pathway toward individual career goals.

Check out where a few of our majors are interning this semester and watch the blog for updates and additional posts! 


Kelsey Francemone, a Political Science Major with a Criminal Justice Minor, is currently interning with the Village of Solvay Police Department in Solvay, New York. 

Kelsey writes "I grew up around police officers, but never saw the side to the job that my dad didn't bring home. Although this experience is very exciting and fun, I've also encountered some dangerous situations. Ultimately, it has taught me a lot about the field of law enforcement, and assured me that this is the field I want to enter after college. I am very glad to have the opportunity to intern for the Solvay Police Department. It has given me experience and a leg up when it comes to seeking a job in the field." Kelsey will be exploring the merger of public safety services in New York State for her Senior Thesis project. 

Kelsey Francemone (Political Science Major, 2015) is interning
with the Village of Solvay Police Department.
She is pictured here with her supervisor, Sergeant Derek Osbeck. 



Fuad Abdul, Political Science, is participating in the Washington Internship Program and is working with the U.S. Associates of Former Members of Congress in Washington, D.C.


Fuad Abdul (Political Science, 2014)




Fuad is currently serving as an intern for Congressional studies on Turkey at the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress where he "assists with planning events, including overseas study tours, community outreach, research and editing, provides translation services, [and] attends and reports on international conferences."







Elias Cobti, Political Science, is also with the Washington Internship Program, and is working at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Washington, D.C.  
Elias Cobti (Political Science, 2014)

Elias reports that he has called up on the knowledge gained from his coursework "when engaging with my new teachers and internship advisers. I will do my best to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from this experience in order to help future students succeed. [The Washington Internship Institute Opportunity] is an extremely worthwhile program, and it has helped to reinforce all of the values that have been stressed throughout college." 




 Jessica Todd, a History Major with a Public History Minor, is currently interning at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site in Buffalo, New York. 

Jessica writes:  "My experience so far is amazing!  I have met people that share my passion for history and my nerdy side. I am experiencing all of the different aspects of being a curator, including creating an event, working with volunteers and the public as well as getting to add artifacts into the collection.... I want to be a museum curator and the two career goals for which I'm aiming (I hope I will do at least one in my life time) is to work in any of the Smithsonian museums or at the Strong National Museum of Play -- because in all honesty I am a child at heart."  

Jessica Todd (History, 2015) seen here with
"Moosevelt," is interning at the TR Inaugural Site. 


To Learn more about internship opportunities and the Washington Internship Institute please contact your faculty advisor in the History & Political Science Department or visit the the Career Services Office at Daemen College.