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Booktalking "Which Side Are You On?" by George Ella Lyon


This book is the story of a song written by Florence Reece in 1931. Florence's son tells how his father is a miner, their family resides in a company house, and his father gets paid in money that is only good at the company store.

The boy's father says that this is why they need a union. The workers ask for better wages, but if they do not get them, they sometimes strike, or refuse to work until they get better working and living conditions. Pa did not return home one day to escape the company rage. While bullets rained throughout the house, the children hid underneath the bed while Florence wrote a song. The song has the refrain: "Which side are you on, Which side are you on?"

Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song by George Ella Lyon, 2011

One of the verses of the song is as follows:

"My Daddy was a miner,
He is now in the air and sun,
He will be with you fellow workers
Until every battle's won."

I first became enamored with this song "Which Side Are You On?" when I heard it sung by Natalie Merchant on her album, The House Carpenter's Daughter. I think it is so cool that there exists a union song.


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If I remember correctly, this

If I remember correctly, this song also figures prominently in the documentary about the Kentucky coal miners strike, <a href="">Harlan County U.S.A.</a>

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