Today I’d like to write about strong women. One of the reasons I was attracted to the story of the 1913 Copper Miners’ Strike, was the part that real women played in it. Big Annie is finally getting her due. She was inducted into Labor’s International Hall of Fame a few weeks ago. Facing adversity and threats was part of her everyday life once she took up the fight.
She formed the 15th Women’s Auxiliary in Calumet, or Red Jacket, as it was called then. Early each morning she led marches to publicize the cause of the mine workers–poor pay, hazardous working conditions, and the new dangerous one-man drill. She was cut with a saber, dragged through the streets, and jailed several times. Yet, nothing stopped her from fighting for the rights of the miners. She enlisted other women in the cause, who joined the Alliance, and together they got women of every ethnic group to support the cause. The Union grew in membership, until finally the strike was called in July of 1913.
In this, a hundred years later, the Copper Country, as the Upper Peninsula is called, is celebrating her and the strike all year. I feel honored to have been part of that memorialization this summer, as I visited many places, signed, read and talked about her story and my historical novel DRIVEN TO RAGE, in which she was a major character.
‘Til next time,