By Memphis Tennessee Garrison
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 have been one of the richest seams within the kingdom. As Garrison makes transparent, the spine of the early mining paintings force—those who laid the railroad tracks, manned the coke ovens, and dug the coal—were black miners. those miners and their households created groups that grew to become the facilities of the fight for unions, higher schooling, and increased civil rights. Memphis Tennessee Garrison, an leading edge instructor, administrative employee at U.S. metal, and vp of the nationwide Board of the NAACP on the top of the civil rights fight (1963-66), was once concerned with all of those struggles.
In some ways, this oral historical past, in keeping with interview transcripts, is the untold and multidimensional tale of African American existence in West Virginia, as noticeable during the eyes of a awesome girl. She portrays a brave those that arrange to enhance their operating stipulations, ship their young children to college after which to varsity, personal land, and help quite a lot of cultural and political activities.
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He said, “I’m going to school next year. ” So he showed her the book. ” He said, “No. ” “Oh, well, sir,” she said. ” She was eating her supper. She was eating a pig’s foot; she liked things like that and I had cooked it for her and she was eating it. She said, “Since you’re going to do all that, you can start right now. ” This was just like her, to come oﬀ on something like that. So he became alert. He said, “Well, I don’t think this book tells that, but I have a book at home that tells it and I’ll bring it to you tomorrow evening.
Plantation life was hard. Granddaddy had belonged to a slave holder, Harston, in Henry County, Virginia, near Martinsville. That is the biggest city around in that county. I think he owned about all of that county, Harston. Of course they call them Hairstons now, but they were ⁄ Harstons. The younger white people of the family still own holdings in Martinsville. They primarily grew tobacco. They had cotton, too, but I think tobacco was the primary thing. In the quarters where my grandfather was there must have been between one and two hundred slaves.
I heard her and I went in and she just laid her head in my arms. Then she just looked up and laid her head against me and that was it. She was gone. So all of those things, and my thinking—what motivated me to do certain things was mostly the closeness of this mother. To me she was unusual because other children’s momma wasn’t like my momma. Somebody’d say to her, “I have a book. It would be nice for your little girl. ” Well, whatever it was, she’d get it. A book agent had a ﬁeld day at our house.