Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nothing Wrong with kickin' it Old,Old school!

The Reel of the week is 1954's "Salt of the Earth". A movie that because of it's unheard of honesty about Social injustice in the Mining Industry during the tumultuous McCarthy Era was banned by the government.
The film is chronicling the 1950 strike by the zinc miners of Local 890 of the International Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers in Silver City, New Mexico. The story was filmed entirely by blacklisted actors and the actual participates of the Strike.
The story centers on Esperanza (Rosaura Revueltas) and Ramon (Juan Chacon) Quintero.  Ramon is a worker in the zinc  mine (who is actually Juan, playing himself). Accidents and unsafe conditions , also inequality in living conditions between the Mexican workers and the white workers come to a head. The miners decide to Strike. 
The Solidarity between the white miners and the Mexican miners is unheard of for that time. The owners of the mine try to break the Strike by violence and then by arresting the ring leaders. They finally pass a law forbidding workers in the mine from picketing on mine property. What that brings about is inspiring and also the harbinger for the coming years with the Freedom Riders and 1955 Bus Boycott by Blacks in Montgomery, Alabama.
In the same year "Salt of the Earth" was banned Labor Organizer Clinton Jencks (who played himself in the movie) was arrested and put on trial for lying about being a Communist and was actually convicted. This prompted the Jencks Act, which governs the production of statements and reports of witnesses for the prosecution during federal trials.
I think this movie is an imperishable story and a must see, I think for high school students, a great study guide. Just think back a short time to the Chilean Miners Story. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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