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Radical Lafayette: The Colorado Coal Strike of 1927-1928

November 23, 2022 - November 1, 2023

The Lafayette History Museum’s newest exhibit, Radical Lafayette: The Colorado Coal Strike of 1927-1928, explores an era when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or “Wobblies”) fanned the flames of discontent. All eyes were on Lafayette as the town became the center of the Wobblies’ radical and militant workers’ rights movement. The exhibit features the roles played by women and the KKK.

During the 1927-28 Colorado Coal Strike, protestors—about half of them Latino—regularly marched through the company town of Serene, where the Columbine Mine had continued operating. But on November 21, 1927, the gates to the mine were locked, and when the crowd refused to disperse, state police opened fire, killing six and injuring dozens. No charges were ever brought against the police, predominantly Klansmen whom Colorado Governor Billy Adams had recently designated ‘strike police.

Women were an important part of the union movement. They led marches, organized protests, and spoke at union meetings. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, one of the women who helped launch the 1927-28 strike, earned the nickname Rebel Girl, a moniker later adopted by the choir of young girls who sang at every union meeting.

Always free. Wednesday through Friday 10 am to 2 pm, Saturdays 8 am to noon.