AMERICA’S SECOND CIVIL WAR

A Performance Art Piece by Jack Bowman


To be performed at the EFX coffeehouse poetry reading April 7 1998

An introductory message should be read by the M.C. (Doug Jerome)

Something like this:

This is a performance art piece about the West Virginia Coal Mine Wars of the 1920’s

The performers, Mandy, Jack, and Marcus are not advocating violence. It is a performance that is done in the context of the 1920’s.

There are political prisoners in America. The last president to admit it was Jimmy Carter.

Again, this is done in the context of a story from the 1920’s.

Mandy already on stage during the intro

Marcus already on stage during the intro

Jack enters

Jack walks up to the mic. And begins with

"This is a story about America’s Second Civil War.

The first civil war you are familiar with.

The second one is hidden and will continue to be as long as we live in a capitalist state.

The second civil war took place in 1920 in the West Virginia and Kentucky Hills.

It was a war against the working people of America. The coal miners.

Amanda Start singing spiritual

It was a war where the people stood united with force against the capitalist that were abusing them.

They fought and they won economic justice for me and for you.

Many of them were tried for treason.

Some for murder.

One tired for murder was William Bowman. He was tired and acquitted for a killing a State Trooper at the Matewan massacre.

Among the hero’s of the Second Civil War was Mother Jones. She was ninety at the time of the war. She had been born in Ireland during the potato famine.

She had led the women bottlers in Milwaukee.

She had led the little children march to Roosevelt’s home to protest child labor.

At cabin creek Mother Jones was arrested for inciting a riot. She told the State Police that she was reading the constitution. They didn’t care and arrested her anyway.

The constitution was and still is suppose to guarantee us, the common man, some fundamental rights. But they are gone, they are always gone with the gun. With the fire.

BURN FLASH PAPER

Mother Jones supposedly told the miners.

"It is freedom or death. If we fight your children will be free. We are not going to leave a slave class to the coming generation, and I say to you that the next generation will not blame us for what we have done; they will blame and condemn us for what we have left undone."

"Go out and kill the goddamn mine guards and blow up the mines"

WHEN AMANDA FINISHES HER SONG MARCUS IS TO START AMAIZING GRACE

The war came to a head at Blare Mountain.

TEN THOUSAND MEN gathered at Blare Mountain. The rebels had rifles. The Capitalist had airplanes, bombs and machine guns.

It was a time when all races and nationalities of poor workers, Hungarians, Italians, ex-black slaves, Kentuckians and Tennessians joined together to fight the capitalist suppressors.

During the battle the Army Air service was hired by the Capitalist to bomb the workers.

It was the first time a bomb was dropped on an American Worker. They were pipe bombs, about twice the size of this

TAKE OUT PIPE BOMB PROP – INSERT AND LIGHT SPARKLER.

It is poetic justice that the Pipe Bomb is the weapon of choice of the American Worker.

The Workers wore red handkerchiefs so they could identify each other. PUT RED KERCHIEF AROUND NECK They never asked each others names. They always called each other buddy. This is where the term redneck came from and this is why strangers are addressed as "Buddy" in the Appalachian hills.

The Capitalist wore blue kerchiefs but should have worn this.

PUT ON SWASTKA ARM BAND

It was the fist time that America dropped poison gas on the people. We now condemn Iraq and are willing to kill hundreds of thousands because they can.

We did it first.

The War ended because the President of the United States sent in Federal troops and the rebels considered themselves patriots and would not fight their own.

A lesson learned was that the people with the guns can do anything they want. When the government decides to take your guns away it is because they themselves are corrupt. They fear that you will not tolerate their corruption and will resist.

SHOOT GUN

Exit stage.

END


For a short video clip of the Battle of Blair Mountain performance click on the image.  The video clip is in the .ram (Real Media) format. civf1.jpg (9501 bytes)

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