Films

Harlan County USA

Film. Directed and produced by Barbara Kopple. 1976. 103 minutes.
This documentary tells the story of a Kentucky coal miners' strike and the thirteen-month struggle between a community fighting to survive and a corporation dedicated to the bottom line.
Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Labor, Organizing

The Academy Award–winning Harlan County USA documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small southeast Kentucky town. Kopple and her crew chronicle the “Brookside Strike” of 1973, in which coal miners and their wives went to battle against the Duke Power Company’s Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County.

Kopple captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs. The 1976 film is a heartbreaking record of the thirteen-month struggle between a community fighting to survive and a corporation dedicated to the bottom line. [This description is adapted from Documenting the American South and The Criterion Collection.]

Share a story, question, or resource from your classroom.

Your email address will not be published.