Salt of the Earth

Apr 23, 2014

(Herbert J. Biberman, USA, 1954, 94 min)

Blacklisted film professionals, with political beliefs deemed too radical in McCarthy-era Hollywood, collaborated with the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers to make this neorealist classic, which follows the struggle of miners and their families (many of them non-actors from the miners union)  as they strike against the Empire Zinc Company in New Mexico. 

Mexican actress Rosaura Revueltas plays the strong and spirited Esperanza Quintero, wife of strike leader Ramón and herself a gifted labor organizer. Police bigotry, alliances, spies and impassioned picketing lace this lively tale of solidarity: among workers, in the Mexican-American community, between women and men. 

Championing feminist ideals and immigration reform decades before these issues received significant national attention, the remarkable historical context surrounding this film makes its continued relevance all the more impressive. Director Herbert J. Biberman, one of the "Hollywood Ten," began production after his release from prison, on a charge of contempt for Congress.

Followed by a discussion featuring Professor George Lovell, (UW Department of Political Science and Chair of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies) Professor James Gregory (UW Department of History) and Conor Casey, Labor Archivist.

This event is part of our series Red Renewal: Seattle’s Socialist Spring >

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