top of page

Which Side Are You On?

Lyrics, story of the song, tune, Civil Rights movement, books

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Book review
Scott, Shawna L. 1995. Two sides to everything: the cultural construction of class consciousness in Harlan County, Kentucky.
Albany: State University of new York press

Sent from my iPhone

If you kill, blacklist, imprison, and exile miners can you then say the remainder have no class consciousness?

If you kill, blacklist, imprison, and exile miners can you then say the remainder have no class consciousness?

Which Side Are You On?, Thomas Geoghegan, 1991, Farrar, Straus & Giroux

p. 12 "Some were so ill they couldn't lie down at night. They had to sleep standing up, just to fight for a bit of air." taking about people ill with black lung and emphysema. In PA

p. 36 "There used to be many, many farewell parties, at all the bars we used to go to after work, and I can still remember the songs. Not 'Which Side Are You On?' I can't stand that damn song."

I need research on the song “Which Side Are You On?” by Florence Reece. 


I want links to reordered versions of the song, any information on the song and on Florence Reece. Books about the song or the writer. Magazine or newspaper articles. This is not a writing project—it’s research. Just give me one sentence or phrase about what I’ll find at each link.



This is for a web site on Harlan County Kentucky coal scrip that I am building.




In the U.S., payment of wages in scrip became illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.



Scrip - Wikipedia


1928 new concrete road pic

“There is no document or agreement in place that prohibits President Trump from using Mar-a-Lago as his residence,” said a Trump business organization spokesman who was not authorized to speak publicly about a legal issue.


The Mar-a-Lago residence that Trump plans to call home after departing the White House. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The current residency controversy tracks back to a deal Trump cut in 1993 when his finances were foundering, and the cost of maintaining Mar-a-Lago was soaring into the multimillions each year. Under the agreement, club members are banned from spending more than 21 days a year in the club’s guest suites and cannot stay there for any longer than seven consecutive days. Before the arrangement was sealed, an attorney for Trump assured the town council in a public meeting that he would not live at Mar-a-Lago. › wiki › Scrip

Our Sixties, An Activist's History

Paul Lauter, University of Rochester Press, 2020

Page 213
“Apart from selection of texts, which helps determine who matters, the functions of literary study–at least as it exists in the formal settings of schools–haunted our efforts. A major part of working-class art also serves to put working-class people in motion towards goals of solidarity and power. “Which side are you on?“ is a vivid song, adaptable to many situations of conflict. Its significance lies less in its formal properties as poetry and song–although these remain important to its success–then in its usefulness in building and maintaining and I
An active social movement. That is, the aesthetic criteria we used to select works for a literary anthology or a syllabus differ from how we choose a work to seeing on a pick up line, in a cottonfield, or an organizing meeting–or even print out a union newspaper. The former set a song in relationship to, soy, and intensely metaphorical poem word “a
Valediction for bidding morning.” The latter such a song in relationship to maintaining a picket maintaining ascidian or pick line in the face of a talker arrest, or as adjuster of solidarity."

Cyrus Eaton offers Samuel Insull the opportunity to purchase his large block of holdings in Insull companies before they are placed on the open market. Insull borrows heavily from New York banks to do so.


1930 spring

“There's a good reason why nobody studies history, it just teaches you too much.” 
-- Noam Chomsky


“The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they’re being objective.” 
-- Noam Chomsky,+Insull&source=bl&ots=EsDyDKtjy4&sig=ACfU3U04rYugr9eJCHgveDLcnTYQfBDOWg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjCnoS39aXtAhWSxFkKHXgGAV84ChDoATAIegQIDBAC#v=onepage&q=southern%20mining%20corporation%2C%20Insull&f=false


Coal seams


About the year 1924, mining operations were opened at a place called Insull on the boundary line of Bell and Harlan counties. It has become quite a large settlement. A school was established in Harlan county a short distance from the line.


The Asher Company brought this action against William Conley, Har-Bel and Red Star, Inc., seeking to recover a royalty of 35 cents per ton on all coal mined from the leasehold by Red Star prior to the date of the lease between Asher Company and Red Star. Conley and Har-Bel denied liability and counterclaimed for damages for breach of the lease contract. Red Star cross-complained against Conley and Har-Bel for such sum, if any, as the Asher Company might recover against it. Conley and Har-Bel then filed a third-party complaint against Robert Asher seeking recovery of damages against him in the event the court should find he was without authority to enter


1,427 ft   3 point

NOTE: This map shows the HISTORICAL LOCATION of a feature that is no longer visible!




Elevation1,575 ft 

Evarts   photos

Sociologists have studied the hell out of Harlan. There have been several books focused on this small out-of-the-way place. Why are we the way we are? They ask the question and then interview people and make conclusions. In this way they miss

But they can’t seem to get to the root cause of why Harlan County is the way it is.

Harlan County came to the attention of the American public in the 1920s and 30s mine wars.
Wages had been cut to the point where children were starving to death, about 30 in 1922 alone by the Commonwealth’s count. The workers could not feed their families on what they were paid so they went on strike.
Company thugs attacked and killed strikers 
That moods on the news but win the battle of Everett‘s game in 1932 “ bloody Harlem“ became
A common phrase
Poor people were killed. That doesn’t sound like a very big bottle as Battle school. But the difference was that this time some company men were killed not just union man. That made the news the terror that Ford with massive arrests and crack grounds
And I show trial with burning crosses and dynamite
The 1500 dead miners whose names are etched at the miners Memorial in Harlem 
And almost the same number of widows
And perhaps four times that many children

What does it do to our community to generate that many widows and orphans? It impoverishes the community. Families left without a means to make a living in an area where they only jobs are in the minds
Or impoverished
No one knows how many men or disabled with black long disease or other breathing problems. Estimates are that it several times the number of those killed

If Harlan stands in for the whole region, get stats on coal production, value, deaths, population, coal towns, scrip mines.

Hillbilly. Maybe what these scholars want to know is why are we the way we are? Why do we speak the way we do, why are we exiled,

What the soc. profs miss is the impact on the population. There’s a Miners Memorial in the town of Harlan that lists the names of 1400

So admire the tree that we cannot see the forrest we’re in.

bottom of page