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Mississippi Moments Podcast

These are the stories of our people in their own words. From sharecroppers to governors, the veterans, artists, writers, musicians, leaders, followers, all those who call Mississippi home. Since 1971 we've collected their memories. The technology has changed, but our mission remains the same: to preserve those wonderful stories. Listen to Mississippi Moments Monday through Friday. at 12:30pm on MPB think radio.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Aug 1, 2016
MSM 491 Harry Marsalis - The McComb Railroad Strike of 1911

The Illinois Central railroad and eight affiliated Harriman lines had traditionally dealt separately with each craft union (boilermakers, blacksmiths, etc.) giving the companies an unfair advantage during contract negotiations in the minds of the unions. When the unions formed a "System Federation" in June of that year, the companies refused to recognize the group and began preparing for a system-wide strike.

Harry Marsalis was a seventeen year old machinist apprentice working at the Illinois Central railroad maintenance shop in McComb when the strike began on September 30th.  In this episode, he describes how the company prepared in advance of the strike by building walled compounds and hiring northern strikebreakers.  According to Marsalis, when the strikebreaker train arrived in McComb three days later, 100 strikers responded to the rock-throwing strikebreakers by shooting the train cars to pieces before the train would escape to New Orleans.  Reports of 30 dead and 100 wounded strikebreakers were denied by the company

Marsalis describes how the town became an armed camp as martial law was declared by the governor, complete with hundreds of state militiamen, machine gun towers and searchlights around the company offices.

After two long years the strike was considered a failure and many of the strikers including Marsalis were forced to leave town looking for work.

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