Labor conflict chronicled in documentary film at SPSCC

Published: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A century ago in 1919, Washington State roiled with labor unrest, strikes, and gunfights in cities like Centralia. That cauldron of radicalism and violence is chronicled in the documentary film “Labor Wars of the Northwest”, showing May 1, Labor Day, at 7 p.m. at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts Main Stage.

The showing is cosponsored by SPSCC and the Olympia Historical Society (OHS) and Bigelow House Museum. Tickets, available on the Washington Center website and at the door, are priced at $10 for the public, $8 for OHS members, and free for students with ID. Following the film, local historians will lead a discussion and Q&A on labor history.

“Labor Wars of the Northwest” examines labor conflict in the context of a decades-long struggle that began with the arrival of the railroads in the 1880s and permeated the region, including Olympia and Thurston County. It shines new light on tragedies like the 1919 Seattle General Strike and the 1919 Centralia Massacre. The documentary was created in part to commemorate the centennial year of those monumental events in Washington State history.

The film was written and directed by the historian and author David J. Jepsen, who teaches Pacific Northwest History at SPSCC and Tacoma Community College.

A faded grayscale photograph of a group of lumberers gathered at a mill in the 1900s