Panel discussion remembers Black Monday 40 years later

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – On the 40th anniversary of what’s known as Black Monday — when Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced it was closing the area’s biggest steel mill Campbell Works — the Tyler History Center held a panel discussion about how this major event shaped the Valley.

“It hit hard,” said Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. “Not only in our pocket books and the loss of jobs. But it hit hard in our psyche’s.”

About 100 people packed the Tyler History Center.

The words former Youngstown Mayor Jack Hunter spoke on the morning of September 19, 1977 came to define Black Monday.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the news we received this morning from Youngstown Sheet and Tube is just the worst possible news that we as your elected public officials could have received,” he said.

Black Monday began in the Boardman offices of Youngstown Sheet and Tube with the announcement that the company’s Campbell Works would be shut down by Friday.

Forty years later the talks were different.

Tuesday brought personal stories of the past — stories of how steel was part of our identity and a camaraderie “among the guys.”

“Jobs in this industry tended to be a family thing,” said Dr. Donna DeBlasio, a history professor at YSU. “Fathers, sons, grandsons, grandfathers worked side-by-side.”

“I miss the guys,” said Carl Jacobson, a former steel worker. “When everything got cut off, I literally saw one or two guys form the Ohio Works for 30 years.”

Jacobson remembers the petitions, committees and protests — all fighting to get something done by forming a local initiative.

But something had changed.

Steel Town USA was in crisis. And while some say they were blind sided by the announcement, others remember the rumors swirling.

“We heard these comments about, ‘Oh, steel is coming in from overseas and it has no tariffs,'” said Bill Farragher, former marketing and communications worker at Youngstown Sheet and Tube.

Forty years later, so much has changed.

The old Campbell Works is now Casey Industrial. But faint remainders of Youngstown Sheet and Tube still stand along the river.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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