“One of the first books to show how Appalachian blacks—like those in the Cotton Belt South and the Northern migrants—successfully pitted their intellect against historical realities and contradiction, and won!”
William H. Turner, co-editor of Blacks in Appalachia
“Anecdotally rich. Memphis Tennessee Garrison: The Remarkable Story of a Black Appalachian Woman fills the gap in historical accounts of mining. Of particular interest is her work on the NAACP and her recollections of its less-remembered cultural mission in the black community—organizing the Negro Artists Series—as well as its political one.”
As a black Appalachian woman, Memphis Tennessee Garrison belonged to a demographic category triply ignored by historians.
The daughter of former slaves, she moved to McDowell County, West Virginia, at an early age and died at ninety-eight in Huntington. The coalfields of McDowell County were among the richest seams in the nation. As Garrison makes clear, the backbone of the early mining work force—those who laid the railroad tracks, manned the coke ovens, and dug the coal—were black miners. These miners and their families created communities that became the centers of the struggle for unions, better education, and expanded civil rights. Memphis Tennessee Garrison, an innovative teacher, administrative worker at U.S. Steel, and vice president of the National Board of the NAACP at the height of the civil rights struggle (1963-66), was involved with all of these struggles.
In many ways, this oral history, based on interview transcripts, is the untold and multidimensional story of African American life in West Virginia, as seen through the eyes of a remarkable woman. She portrays a courageous people who organize to improve their working conditions, send their children to school and then to college, own land, and support a wide range of cultural and political activities.
Ancella Bickley is a retired professor of English and Vice President for Academic Affairs at West Virginia State College. More info →
Lynda Ann Ewen is a professor of sociology at Marshall University, where she directs the Oral History of Appalachia Program and is co-director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia. More info →
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A groundbreaking approach to studying not only cultural linguistics but also the cultural heritage of a historic time and place in America. It gives witness to the issues of race and class inherent in the way we write, speak, and think.
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History · Appalachian Studies · 19th century · 20th century · Americas · North America · United States · Appalachia · Theater - History and Criticism · Literary Studies · American History · Ohio and Regional
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