A century ago this week, a long-simmering conflict between miners on strike in the southern Colorado coalfields and troops of the Colorado National Guard erupted into the deadliest labor war in American history. A raging gun battle on April 20, 1914, resulted in the destruction of the strikers' Ludlow tent colony and the deaths of nearly two dozen people -- most of them women and children who'd sought refuge from the shooting in a small cellar under one of the tents. The Ludlow Massacre, as it became known, is one of the darkest yet most neglected chapters of state history -- but a slew of commemorative events planned to mark its hundredth anniversary could help change that. See also: Best History Book 2009 -- Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War
Several Ludlow-related exhibits and activites are already under way, including Children of Ludlow: Life in a Battle Zone, 1913-1914, a display of artifacts, photographs, maps and other materials at the El Pueblo History Museum, running until September. Here are some of the most notable events scheduled for this week, counting down to the actual date of the massacre next Sunday:
At noon on Monday, April 14, University of Colorado Boulder history professor Thomas Andrews will discuss his award-winning book on Ludlow, Killing for Coal, at the Anschutz Medical Campus, Education Building 2 North, Room 1107, in Aurora.
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, Colorado poet laureate David Mason will read from his verse novel Ludlow at the LARC Auditorium on the Pueblo campus of Colorado State University, with a repeat performance at 4 p.m. April 22 in the Fulginiti Pavilion, Anschutz Medical Campus.
At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, the Rawlings Public Library in Pueblo (100 East Abriendo Avenue) will screen Matewan, director John Sayles's 1987 film about a 1920 coal miners' strike in West Virginia. The library will also host journalist Scott Martelle, author of Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 17.
Also on Thursday, April 17, Boulder's Nomad Theater, 1410 Quince Avenue, will feature two Ludlow-themed Gary Ball Memorial Concerts, featuring John McCutcheon and Alice DiMicele, and Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman and Andy Thorn. Proceeds will benefit the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.
On Friday, April 18, the Bread and Roses Cultural Center and the Industrial Workers of the World will present Way Down in the Hole and Ludlow Massacre, two recent documentaries by local filmmakers, introduced by author Martelle, at 7 p.m. at Denver's Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Admission is free.
Also on April 18, at 8 p.m., Pueblo's Memorial Hall will offer Ludlow in Requiem, a look at the massacre through labor songs and other materials, featuring performances by activist John McCutcheon, Daniel Valdez and others.
Saturday, April 19, brings an all-day LaborFest Academic Symposium at the El Pueblo History Museum, 301 North Union Avenue in Pueblo, sponsored by CSU Pueblo. For more information, call 719-549-2620.
Because the actual anniversary date of the tragedy falls on Easter Sunday, April 20, the main event scheduled for that day is a Greek Orthodox service at the Ludlow Memorial south of Walsenburg, at 2 p.m. There will also be a 10 a.m. service at the site conducted by United Mine Workers of America, but the union's official remembrance ceremonies are scheduled for next month, May 17 and 18.
At 7 p.m. on Monday, April 21, the Ludlow Centennial Commemoration Commission will showcase a panel discussion featuring historian Andrews, a UMWA official and others at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway.
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For more information on these events and other Ludlow matters, check out the official Ludlow centenary website and the UMWA's Ludlow Centennial Facebook page. For a detailed look back at what really happened at Ludlow and its impact on Colorado, watch for our cover story this week.