Sellins was a labor organizer -- and from all accounts, she was an exceptional
one. But she paid with her life."
When immigrant women earning poverty wages in St.
Louis sweatshops voted to strike, Fannie Sellins was there. When destitute coal
miners dared to unionize in West Virginia, Fannie was there.
When hired gunmen threatened, beat and shot miners
walking the picket line in Pennsylvania, Fannie was there. Mine operators would
have paid any price to get rid of Fannie. They threatened to kill her, but
Fannie refused to go away.
The United Mine Workers Journal called her an
"Angel of Mercy," who went into the miners' homes, encouraging their
wives and caring for the sick and dying. "Whenever there was a strike,
with its inevitable suffering, Mrs. Sellins was found, caring for the women and
children through the dark days of the struggle."
Fannie Sellins (1872–1919) lived during the Gilded Age
of American Industrialization, when the Carnegies and Morgans wore jewels, and
their laborers wore rags. Fannie dreamed that America could achieve its ideals
of equality and justice. She sacrificed her life for that dream, dying on the
picket line in a hail of bullets.
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