Archive for April, 2011

Hazel Dickens, R. I. P.

April 23, 2011

There was no better friend of the working woman and man than Hazel Dickens, who has died at the age of 75.  I will leave the biographical details to the excellent New York Times obituary, which is largely accurate, but gets one thing very wrong. One sentence of the obituary claims: “No immediate family members survive.”  Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who carries a lunch pail, anyone who works way too long for way too little, anyone whose job is threatened by the new wave of anti-labor legislation sweeping the country: every one of us is an immediate family member of Hazel Dickens.

No one ever had to ask Hazel Dickens:  “Which side are you on?” Every day of her life was a tribute to her choice of sides. We owe her a lot, and no better way to pay than to continue her fight. I don’t know if there’s an angel’s union in heaven, but my guess is there might be one soon. Look out, God, here comes Hazel!

Here’s a clip from the great documentary Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song, an Appalshop documentary. You can buy the DVD at Appalshop, too. Please visit their site, a great resource for Appalachian arts and artists. They’ve got a front page story up this morning about Hazel’s passing, well worth reading.

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