CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One hundred labor professors and historians sent a petition to West Virginia's legislators Monday, urging them to create a permanent park honoring the Battle of Blair Mountain.
The battle, fought for five days in late August and early September 1921, was the largest armed confrontation in U.S. labor history.
The park would be located in the area around Sharples, on the Logan-Boone county line.
"Blair Mountain, West Virginia, stands at the center of American labor history. At the start of the twentieth century, the United Mine Workers of America was one of the most powerful unions in the nation but had not yet organized the southern West Virginia counties," the petition states.
"Coal operators there were determined to keep labor costs low by any means, including repression of the rights of their workers. The struggle by those workers for a union in 1921 was a struggle for basic civil liberties in the coalfields."
More than 10,000 coal miners marched south from Marmet through Boone County toward Logan County, planning to organize nonunion miners into the UMW.
The marchers confronted about 3,000 law enforcement officers, many of whom worked directly for coal companies.
Miners and the local police fought on Blair Mountain, sometimes in deadly confrontations, until U.S. Army units and fighter planes came in and ended the conflict.
Lou Martin, who holds a Ph.D. in history at West Virginia University and teaches at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, helped recruit people across the country to sign the petition.
Local signers include Fred Barkey, a Marshall University professor and founder of the West Virginia Labor History Association; Ron Lewis and Ken Fones-Wolf, history professors at WVU; and Ronald D. Eller and Dwight B. Billings, professors at the University of Kentucky.
Jeff Biggers, author of "The United States of Appalachia," signed the petition, as did professors from schools including the University of Maryland, University of Texas, the College of Willian & Mary, the University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, Cornell University and the University of Georgia.