José Villa: A Spanish Militant in Colorado’s Coal Fields

On a recent episode of History is Revolting we discussed the life of José Villa, who was described in one newspaper as “one of the principal Spanish organizers” in the lead-up to the 1927-28 Colorado coal miners strike (led by the Industrial Workers of the World–IWW). Rather than provide a detailed summary of what we talked about (scroll to the bottom to listen to the episode), we present here some of the primary documents that informed our discussion.

Clemente Chavez: Immigrant Miner and Wobbly Martyr

On January 12, 1928, an immigrant coal miner and ‘Wobbly’ organizer named Clemente Chavez was shot in the head by an unknown Colorado state police officer. During two episodes of our radio show History is Revolting we talked about Clemente Chavez, and the various events that occurred on January 12, 1928, that culminated in Chavez’ murder inside the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union hall. We also talked about the life of Chavez, and we examined a number of primary documents to explore his background in Mexico and his life as an immigrant miner in Colorado. Rather than provide a complete retelling of these episodes, we present here a sampling of some of the primary documents that tell the story of Chavez’ life.

Juan Noriega: From Immigrant Coal Miner and ‘Wobbly’ Agitator to Colorado State Senator

Born in Spain in 1898, Juan Noriega was one of the most active rank-and-file Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizers during the 1927 Colorado coal strike. A decade later he was a New Deal Democrat elected to the Colorado state senate. His story has thus far been ignored by historians. Looking at a variety of primary sources including newspaper articles and mining company personnel records and spy reports, we discussed Juan Noriega in three episodes of our weekly community radio show.

Scabbing and Retribution: Violence in an Aguilar Pool Hall

On this week’s episode of History is Revolting we talked about a violent incident that occurred during the 1927-1928 Colorado coal strike. Newspapers reported that on November 19, 1927, two “loyal miners” were dragged out of a pool hall in Aguilar, Colorado, and were badly beaten by fifteen “IWW agitators” with ” knives, clubs and brass knuckles.” We examined this incident and found that the full story was much more complicated and interesting than what was reported in the press.

“Red Is Her Color”: Aurora Samson, Rank-and-File Wobbly Organizer

On a recent episode of History is Revolting we talked about Aurora Samson, nicknamed ‘Frenchy.’ Samson was a rank-and-file member and organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Colorado and Los Angeles in the 1920s. We also talked about how the capitalist and movement press portrayed women who participated in strike actions, casting them as “Amazon women” and/or miners’ girlfriends. We present here a basic summary of some of what we discussed in this episode, along with images of a number of primary source documents discussed on the program.

Conrado Alvillar, Wobbly Artist: “As Dangerous to Society as a Rattlesnake”

Conrado Alvillar was an artist, an organizer, and a working-class intellectual. He was also a coal miner, a beet worker, a husband, and a father. His story had seemingly been lost to history, until recently when we discovered information about him in documents held in the the archives of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I). After conducting more research and finding information in a variety of newspaper articles and other primary sources, we talked about the life of Conrado Alvillar over the course of several episodes of our weekly radio show History is Revolting…

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