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JALC to Host Historian Mike Matejka and Musical Artist Bucky Halker to Discuss Dark as a Dungeon Illinois Coal Mining in Story and Song

Published on March 27, 2024

John A. Logan College will host Illinois Labor History Society Vice President Mike Matejka and songwriter, performer and historian Bucky Halker on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the John A. Logan College Conference Center as they present Dark as a Dungeon Illinois Col Mining in Story and Song.

Flyer for Dark as a Dungeon - Illinois Coal Mining in Story and Song presentation.

According to his bio on the Illinois Humanities website, Mike Matejka is an author, historian, community activist, and retired union representative. He served as the Governmental Affairs Director for the Great Plains Laborers District Council, edited the Grand Prairie Union News for 40 years, and was also elected for 18 years to the Bloomington City Council. As an Illinois Labor History Society vice-president, he knows Illinois’ nationally significant labor history. He is a past president and current board member of the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington, where he was guest curator for five different exhibits, including two on railroad topics.  He has written for multiple publications and is completing an overview book on Illinois labor history.

Bucky Halker is a songwriter, performer, and historian with 15 albums, including Anywhere But Utah: songs of Joe Hill (2015), a musical tribute to martyred labor songwriter Joe Hill and the Ghost of Woody Gutherie (2012), an original music tribute to the legendary folksinger.

According to John A. Logan College Professor of History Dr. David Cochran, the event will tell the story of Illinois Coal mines from the perspective of the coal miner.

“Coal has provided the fuel for Illinois history, both literally and figuratively. Corporations and towns have been built on it while miners have endured horrific safety conditions, and Illinois has suffered more than its share of mining disasters, Cochran said. “Through Illinois coal fields run multiple themes of American history, including immigration, ethnic and racial divisions, and numerous bloody labor confrontations as miners struggled to establish their right to organize for a living wage and a decent life.”

The event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the John A. Logan College Department of Communications, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholar Program.

Dark as a Dungeon - Illinois Coal Mining in Story and Song