|Ruth nee Rufus at 2 with Mike the dog|
But Ruth still bore the scars of the death of her father. She loved her adopted parents and they doted on her. As an adult she was close to one of her brothers and they visited back and forth. Still there was a gnawing feeling of loss and abandonment flying under the surface. Black lung had stripped her of her biological family.
The mining companies and industry groups continued to deny reality and death certificates almost never bore the words "black lung" as cause of death. Today with a resurgence of the disease exacerbated by the addition of silica to the deadly coal dust not much changes. The industry denies, allies in Congress want to investigate the folks who did the latest study, the President doesn't want to push the issue in an election year, and with the general gridlock, there is no hope of action now.
In 1912, Lula Necessary was faced with a bleak future and devastating choices. She had no government safety net, no access to the courts, and no skills with which to make a living and support her kids. She had to give away her children and hope for the best. Records show she eventually found work as a domestic servant and may have married. Her children all did well and entered the middle class as professionals. Rufus and Lula's grandchildren also became professionals and raised families of their own. None of us bear the scars but we do have the sad family memories and an abiding belief that it should not have to happen to others.
My mother, Ruth/Rufus, and her family were victims exactly 100 years ago. In that time, how many more miners and their families have been destroyed?
Why am I posting this on my strategic leadership blog? Simple,
Black Lung is back because of lack of leadership at every level. The feds, the states, the coal companies, the unions, and industry associations have all been complicitous.
100 years is too long to wait for the elimination of this killer.
Where are the leaders?