On life in the southern mountainous areas. Two American miners emerge from a coal mine in Harlan, Kentucky. The two miners push a mining cart filled with raw coal. The miners wear mining helmets with headlamps. Coal miner poses with coal.
Coal mining in Harlan Kentucky. Exteriors of a coal mine in Harlan, Kentucky. High altitude view of the mine. Sign board at a muddy road, 'No Admittance- Employees Only'.
Riots and strikes on streets in United States protesting low profits to farmers in the United States during the great depression. A long line of coal cars comes out of a mine with armed soldiers riding the cars. Strikebreakers enter the mine as federal soldiers stand guard. Women parade through streets. They carry signs. The signs read 'The Big Three call us Reds because we fight for bread', Opening scenes show coal being moved out of a mine in Harlan County, Kentucky. Armed Kentucky National Guard soldiers climb aboard and ride on each open car of coal. Miners who cross the picket lines to work (aka strike-breakers, or SCABS) enter the mine under National Guard protection. One miner carries a pistol, along with his lunch box. Change of scene to a street, probably in Detroit, Michingan, where several women carry signs denigrating the "Big Three" (automobile manufacturers). One sign reads: "The Big 3 call us RED Because we fight for Bread." The final sequence shows a group of men attacking a farmer's truck carrying milk cans. The attackers force the truck to the side of a country road and empty all the milk cans. A plank, filled with upwards pointing spikes, has been placed on the road to stop trucks. In a town street, A vigilante knocks a man from a vegetable truck, as it passes him. A gang of men attacking the vegetable truck are resisted by club wielding vigilantes.
The lives of Appalachian mountain people in a depressed area of Kentucky, and how they cope with poverty and maintain their traditions and dignity through music. Farmer Shepherd's family house in Old House Branch, Harlan County: Women by the window of a house look out. Farmer Shepherd and his daughters walk up the path towards the house. A dog follows them and barks. Farmer Shepherd, who works in the big company mine, waves as he approaches the house. The family seated inside. A girl with a kitten. A boy plays the banjo and sings. Framed pictures on the table. dog on the patio, path leading to the house. A girl on the path, a boy milks a cow, women and young girls peel corn cobs. A woman lays the table, girls with cats enter the house. Pictures on the wall inside. The family seated for supper. They eat and talk. Utensils hang on the wall. They put away the utensils after the meal. Daisy, Kentucky: Unemployed construction worker, Roscoe Holcomb walks up a path with his family. They approach their house amidst the mountains. Holcomb works on the farm. A woman dances to music with a little girl. People on a dance floor dance to the tune of a band playing in the background.
Exteriors of a coal mine in Harlan, Kentucky. Mine workers at work. Workers unload coal from a chute car. Network of conveyor belts between coal repository buildings.
Coal mine workers in Harlan, Kentucky. One of the workers wearing mining gear and a head lamp, smiles. Miners at work. Haulage cars loaded with coal weighed on a weighing machine. Miners deposit their work-tokens on the token board at the end of their shifts.