Millikin brings bluegrass and environmental justice to campus

Margaret Eby

Do you love bluegrass music? Do you have a curiosity about the history of our country? Do you have a passion for environmental awareness? If so, don’t forget to attend Saro Lynch-Thomason’s lecture recital this weekend.

Lynch-Thomason has created and produced the Blair Pathways project, a musical and historical narrative of the West Virginia coal mine wars of 1900-1921. With the help of contemporary bluegrass and old-time musicians, she has put together an album of music from the resistance movement of the largest labor uprising in American history.

Along with the music, Lynch-Thomason and her team have made an interactive map connecting the songs with the landscape. The map chronicles major events in the fight for labor equality, and each location contains a link to a short essay about that event and the thematic connection to the song with which it’s paired.

The Blair Pathways project is more than this multi-media project. There is a strong social and environmental message that runs through the music, the history and the goal of the organization. The project was inspired by the fight to save Blair Mountain, the site of a major battle in the labor uprising, from mountaintop removal mining. Their hope is to recognize Blair Mountain as a national historic battle site. All of the proceeds from the album go to the fight to save Blair Mountain. Learn more about this project at

Lynch-Thomason will be providing two events – one on campus and one in the community. On Sunday, April 21 at 10:15 a.m., she will be speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 3773 N. MacArthur Rd. On Monday, April 22, Lynch-Thomason will give a lecture recital in Kaeuper Hall at 7:30 p.m. Come hear great music and learn about the connection between our history, our environment and the privileges we enjoy today.