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Cultural Heritage Lecture Series to present William C. Blizzard, author of When Miners March, and son of Bill Blizzard who led the “Red Neck Army” at the Battle of Blair Mountain

3/10/2006

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its Cultural Heritage Lecture Series with William C. Blizzard, author of When Miners March: The Story of Coal Miners in West Virginia, and son of Bill Blizzard who led the “Red Neck Army” at the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, on Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m., in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. The program will be preceded with musical selections by Elaine Purkey of Chapmanville and T. Paige Dalporto of Charlton Heights who will sing new and original labor songs including “Ma Blizzard” at 6:30 p.m. A booksigning will follow the lecture in the Great Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Blizzard wrote When Miners March in the early 1950s. A Columbia University educated photographer and writer, he spent nearly a decade researching his text only to have it published in installment format in the obscure Labor’s Daily with no byline attached. The political climate at the time precluded major publication. Finally, in 2004, a series of unexpected events occurred that led to the publication of the book and Blizzard, at age 89, is now enjoying the fruits of his labor.

When Miners March describes how unionized coal miners in West Virginia in the early 1920s battled an army of private coal company detectives backed by federal troops who attacked the miners from the air. The book also covers the earliest mining in Wheeling (1810) and the Kanawha Valley (1817) to the formation of the UMWA and the early struggles of John L. Lewis and touches on the landmark events in West Virginia that shaped the laws and regulations affecting every American miner today. The text has not been edited from the original script and pictures and documents from Blizzard’s collection have been added.

Blizzard wrote for the Nation and the United Mine Workers Journal as well as a feature writer and photographer for the Charleston Gazette. His book has been reviewed in the Utne magazine and other national publications. The upcoming spring edition of Goldenseal magazine also will carry an interview with Blizzard. His book was the impetus for Sanford Berman and others to request that the Library of Congress create new subject headings on “The West Virginia Mine Wars” and “The Battle of Blair Mountain,” which went into effect last summer. Blizzard will be profiled in the magazine Preservation as part of a story on the attempt to block the mountaintop removal mining destruction of Blair Mountain. He currently lives in Winfield.

Blizzard’s presentation will cover the story of his book and its publication followed by a question and answer period. Visitors also will be able to view pictures and artifacts from the early days of mining in our state.

For more information about the Cultural Heritage Lecture Series, call (304) 558-0162. Next month’s program will feature Tara Dillard, garden lifestyle designer at Sone Mountain, Ga. on Saturday, April 22 at 12:30 p.m.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Media Note: William C. Blizzard can be reached through his agent, Wess Harris, at (304) 927-5333 or flatridge@wirefire.com