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West Virginia woman coal miner to be in PBS documentary

Feb. 25, 2013 @ 01:34 PM

CHARLESTON — A native West Virginia woman who was one of the first female coal miners in the United States will be featured in the PBS documentary, “Makers: Women Who Make America” at 8 p.m.  Tuesday, Feb. 26 on West Virginia PBS.
Barbara Burns joins a long list of women who have helped shape America over the last 50 years in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy. Among the other women interviewed in the program will be Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Ellen DeGeneres, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Marlo Thomas.

In addition to being one of the first underground female coal miners, Burns is also distinguished for having the courage to pursue a decades-long sexual harassment case that lasted from 1986 to 2000. Her determination and ultimate success encouraged other women in similar circumstances to move forward with their own cases.

Narrated by three-time Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep,”Makers”  takes its cue from the movement's motto, "The personal is political," delving into the personal lives of its subjects. The film is built from first-person, intimate accounts of women who experienced this time of change, including movement leaders such as author and feminist activist Gloria Steinem and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; opponents such as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly; celebrities including media leader Oprah Winfrey and journalist Katie Couric; political figures such as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; business leaders such as Linda Alvarado, president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc., and a co-owner of The Colorado Rockies; and many "ordinary" women who confronted the dramatic social upheaval in their own lives.

Through the perspectives of those who lived through historic milestones, “Makers” will recount the seminal events in the Women's Movement, including the publication of The Feminine Mystique in 1963, the battles to end discriminatory laws and practices over the following decade, and Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. It will also go much further, telling the surprising and unknown stories of women who broke barriers in their own chosen fields - from the coal mines of West Virginia to the boardrooms of Madison Avenue. And it will take the story to today, when a new generation is both defending and questioning the legacy of their mothers.

"I'm so happy that we're finally hearing the stories and voices of women who make America," said Gloria Steinem, one of the project's advisors and featured subjects. "We do what we see, not what we're told, so an incomplete story of this country damages everyone. Makers will not only change our picture of the present, but release talent for the future."

The broadcast comes on the heels of the launch of www.makers.com early in 2012. This landmark multiplatform video experience from PBS and AOL aims to become the largest and most dynamic collection of women's stories ever assembled. The AOL-developed interactive video platform has become a source of inspiration for millions of people, with more than 32.5 million video views to date.

 For more information, visit MAKERS.com/press and pbs.org/MAKERS, follow @MAKERSwomen on Twitter and visit Facebook.com/makerswomen on Facebook.