MATEWAN —The cast and crew of the 1987 John Sayles film "Matewan" — including James Earl Jones, Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, and others — are supporting the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum's efforts to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain in 2021.
The Mine Wars Museum has received a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the celebration, but in order to unlock those funds, the museum must match the grant dollar-for-dollar. The museum has raised about half of the funds so far. In order to raise the rest, the museum launched an online fundraiser on IndieGoGo.
James Earl Jones, who played Few Clothes Johnson in the film, was the campaign's first donor. In a video, he shared with museum staff that "Matewan" was his favorite film that he has ever acted in.
"I hope you have a chance to see it," he said. "And I hope you will consider donating to the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, which brings this forgotten history to life in the 21st century."
The promotional video for the campaign includes more testimonials from the cast and crew.
"Today it's maybe more important than ever to remember our country's legacy of labor organizing and resistance to injustice," says Chris Cooper, who played union organizer Joe Kenehan in the film.
Writer and director John Sayles said both the Battle of Blair Mountain and the Matewan miners' strike were examples of "people coming together to fight injustice," and he supports the museum's efforts to "keep telling
Although the centennial of the Battle of Blair Mountain is still three years away, planning for the five-day commemoration is underway. The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum has partnered with the National Coal Heritage Authority, West Virginia Labor Association, Battle of Homestead Foundation, Clio Foundation, Terror on the Tug and more. The Museum also hired a centennial coordinator in November.
To learn more about the fundraising campaign and watch the video, go to igg.me/at/blair100. Donors will receive special gifts like red bandanas, lapel pins, ballcaps, museum memberships, a VIP ramp dinner with special guests and more.
All proceeds will benefit the Blair Centennial, which will take place in 2021 during Labor Day Weekend and will expand across multiple counties in the state.
For more information about the museum, go to wvminewars.com.