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MCC presents 'Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913' Dec. 10

December 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of what is considered the largest mass murder in Michigan history and deadliest unsolved manslaughter in U.S. history — something that still haunts the American labor movement to this day.

Mott Community College is hoping to shed more light on that tragic event by presenting a free screening of the documentary, Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at the MCC Event Center, adjacent to the Mott Library on the Mott Community College main campus, 1401 E. Court St. This event is free and open to the public.

The tragedy, chronicled by award-winning author and historian Steve Lehto in his book, Death’s Door: The Truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder, marred the first unionized strike in the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country, the site of the first copper boom in the U.S.

The most infamous event associated with the 1913-1914 strike waged by copper miners of Copper Country was the death of 73 people, mostly children, who had assembled at the Italian Hall in Calumet for a Christmas party.

Lehto will be on hand to lead a discussion and answer questions after the film is shown. Lehto presents evidence that a strikebreaker yelled 'Fire!' in the Hall’s crowded auditorium to deliberately cause chaos.

“Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1919 very likely thought of an incident like the Calumet Italian Hall disaster when he famously declared, 'The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic,'” said Brian Harding, MCC associate professor of history.

“I am very excited to bring Steve Lehto to Mott Community College to discuss the 1913 Copper Country Strike and Italian Hall Massacre in Calumet and to premiere the new documentary Red Metal,” Harding added. “The events of 1913 in Michigan's U.P. are one part of more than a half-century of struggle for the miners of the United States to form labor unions. This is often forgotten now, but it was the mine workers who led the way during the 1930s and 1940s to the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and the United Steelworkers (USW). This is a story Flint ought to know.”

Call (810) 762-0516 for more information about this program.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers from a press release submitted to eastvillagemagazine.org. The story is edited to conform to Associated Press and local style. The group or individual who submitted the story is responsible for all information provided.)

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