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Salt of the Earth 60th anniversary activities

Editor's Note: Many thanks to those who helped the Beat with photos and information preceding and after the event. 

Activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Empire Zinc Mine strike and the subsequent film—Salt of the Earth—that documented the happenings took place from Hurley to the strike site to the Union Hall in Bayard to the Western New Mexico Fine Arts Center Theatre in Silver City.

Not only locals participated in the events, but also various union officials, as well as family members of the strikers came to the area for the commemoration. The morning began with a reception at the United Steelworkers Local 9424, former Local 890, Union Hall in Bayard, where people boarded buses taking them to the strike site, as well as the film locations. After the tour, people gathered back at the Union Hall for lunch and entertainment. At 4 p.m. a panel discussion, featured Iron Women's Auxiliary to Women of Steel members preceded the showing of the film.

Several of the women, who participated on the picket line because their menfolk miners were forbidden by injunction from striking, also took part in the commemoration. Juana Moreno Sierra was on the tour and at the lunch and reception.

Loretta Chacón-Hellerman, the great-neice of Juan Chacón, who was a striker and also acted in the film, provided entertainment throughout the day along with the band, Mobetta Loretta BandSponsors who helped bring Loretta and her band from California were:  Mimbres Region Arts Council, Holiday Inn Express, IATSE Film Technicians and Local 480 (Santa Fe), and private donor Judith Helzner of Chicago.

Patrons honored Salt of the Earth participants by presenting original photographs, current photos of elders, and displays.  The Southwestern New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce coordinated the reception at the FACT; members providing food donations included Vicky's Eatery,  Diane's Restaurant and Tre Rosat.  Grant County musicians on the film, Silver City Dreaming,  performed their songs from the film during the reception.  The film, which promotes Grant County and filmmaking, was premiered at the event prior to the showing of Salt of the Earth.

Sponsors of the events were plentiful. Local musicians were sponsored by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Tehnicians, Artis and Allied Crafts of the U.S. and KURU 89.1, Greg Renfro, Jean Eisenhower and WNMU. Other sponsors of events included Unitied Steelworkers & Local 9424-Bayard, AFSCME Public Employees' Union and Council 18, New Mexico Federation of Labor, United Steelworkers Women of Steel, Murray Hotel, SWNM Green Chamber of Commerce, Silver City & Cobre Education Associations, Silver City Tourism, Suntreat Beverages, and private citizens. 

Here are links to two short videos on YouTube by Ronnee-Sue Helzner:



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