This Friday, Nov. 13, marks the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Mine Disaster in Illinois, when an estimated 259 coal miners lost their lives to fire and the buildup of “black damp” or toxic gases. The St. Paul Coal Company Mine in Cherry was hailed by its consulting engineer as the “safest mine in the world.”

While we take time to reflect on the heroic sacrifices of coal miners and their families this week, the Cherry Mine Disaster remains a haunting reminder of the secret legacy of child labor in our coal mines — and its unconscionable use today.

Big Coal front groups like to peddle their “Coal is Cool” curriculum in schools — including a bizarre “Mars Invasion” project to help children play with the planning of coal camps on Mars — and disingenuous coal coloring books.