The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner—Industrial Valley & Mudbound

Jan 31, 2022

Book: Industrial Valley by Ruth McKenney 1939

This is a true story, located in Akron, Ohio, where most worked in the rubber tire factories, at the mercy of the company’s speed-up, lay-offs, piecework and pay cuts. It depicts, through newspaper clips and short narration, a day-by-day commentary starting in 1932 and culminating in the sit-down strike of 1936. You see the lives of workers and the unemployed and the frivolity of the rich (the rubber companies made millions every year in the depression), and the growing tension between them that finally exploded in a great strike wave in 1936, and inspired the Flint Sit Down a year later. The growing divide between rich and poor of this time period and the hardship and despair people faced bears striking resemblance to the events we face today.

Film: Mudbound, 2017

Mudbound, 2017, directed by Dee Rees, on Netflix. It is based on the 2008 novel Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. It stars Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Mary J. Blige.

If you haven’t already seen this award-winning film, you don’t want to miss it. It tells the story of two families in 1940s Mississippi, one white small land-owning farmer family, and a black sharecropping family. It shows the brutal realities of racism, farming and friendship, and the upending effect of World War II on all of their lives.