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‘Salt of the Earth’ ripe with revolutionary flavor

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By Kelly Dolejsi

“How shall I begin my story that has no beginning?” Esperanza Quintero says in her opening narration to “Salt of the Earth.” It’s more than a poetic line and it’s far more than just her story.

It’s as though Esperanza speaks of the human story – the constant struggle of mankind versus itself. Where does such a story begin and more importantly, how can it evolve?

“The Salt of the Earth” is one of very few films I’ve ever seen confront the question on a large scale and suggest an honest answer. Released in 1954, it is certainly the earliest.

Filmed in Grant County, N.M., the movie is based on the true story of a 1951 miners’ strike in Fierro, N.M., located near Silver City.

In the film, the miners of Zinc Town decide to strike after management’s abhorrent safety practices lead to a series of accidents. The men, all of whom are of Mexican descent, refuse to work until these practices are changed to resemble those in place for Anglo miners.

The miners’ wives, on the other hand, are more concerned about sanitation.


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