Skip to main content
Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song
  • Anne M Giangiulio, University of Texas at El Paso

Excerpt from the graphic novel I designed, 'Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song' by George Ella Lyon, in collaboration with Brooklyn illustrator Christopher Cardinale, published by Cinco Puntos Press. 'Which Side Are You On?' tells the story of a song which was written in 1931 by Florence Reece in a rain of bullets. It has been sung by people fighting for their rights all over the world. Florence’s husband Sam was a coal miner in Kentucky. Many of the coal mines were owned by big companies, who kept wages low and spent as little money on safety as possible. Miners lived in company houses on company land and were paid in scrip, good only at the company store. The company owned the miners sure as sunrise. And that’s why they had to have a union. Miners went on strike until they could get better pay, safer working conditions, and health care. The company hired thugs to attack the organizers like Sam Reece. Writer George Ella Lyon tells this hair-raising story through the eyes of one of Florence’s daughters, a dry-witted pig-tailed gal, whose vantage point is from under the bed with her six brothers and sisters. The thugs’ bullets hit the thin doors and windows of the company house, the kids lying low wonder whether they’re going to make it out of this alive, wonder exactly if this strike will make their lives better or end them, but their mother keeps scribbling and singing. “We need a song,” she tells her kids. Please be patient when downloading as file is 1.7 MB.

  • Which Side Are You On?,
  • Giangiulio design
Publication Date
Citation Information
Anne M Giangiulio. "Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song" (2011)
Available at: