Pratt Mines, 1889: Several hundred white miners lay down their tools and leave the mines, with the go-ahead of the mine boss, to pursue a black miner accused of raping a white woman. Upon capturing the suspect, they lynch him.
Lewisburg, 1905: White miners and their families join black miners and their families along the riverside for a black baptismal ceremony.
Cardiff, 1891: A baseball match between the "white nine" of Cardiff and the "negro nine" of Brookside is canceled when an armed white man, hostile to interracial recreation, orders the black players out of town. 1
IN THESE EPISODES--one an act of rabid hostility, another a moment of social harmony, and the third an event blending elements of both--we can glimpse the gamut of racial sentiments that coexisted in the Alabama coal fields. The organized labor campaigns that black and white miners built together incorporated this variety of attitudes. How the Greenback- Labor Party, the Knights of Labor, and the United Mine Workers addressed the challenges of race in an ever more segregated region makes up the core of the ensuing story. This chapter explores the social terrain from which these campaigns, detailed in the following chapters, arose. The interracialism that made them so remarkable emerged out of the wide-ranging set of conditions that white and black miners faced in common.