Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

Photograph courtesy of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

A few years ago, Diane Williams took her granddaughters to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.

“I wanted to show my granddaughters what their great-grandmother did,” the Pennsylvania resident recalled. “So I took them through the exhibition mine, took them on that ride down into the earth to see what mining was like. And my granddaughters’ eyes were opened so wide. They could not believe my mother had done this.”

The great-grandmother they knew was much too tall to have worked in a tunnel with such a low roof. Their loved one liked watching old black-and-white cowboy shows on TV, not black dust gathering on her nice clothes. She enjoyed fishing, not shoveling. The great-grandmother they knew was too full of love and home cooking to have worked as hard as their tour guide explained coal miners did.

They didn’t know the groundbreaking woman in the coal-dust-covered overalls, the one wearing a utility belt as heavy as a child and a hard black hat that said “Big Black Mama.” They didn’t know the brave woman who stood tall against sexist and racial slurs while bent under a low, dark ceiling to support four children.

They do now, and so will other visitors to the Exhibition Coal Mine, where a new exhibit paying tribute to the contributions of Zora Stroud and other female miners will be ceremoniously unveiled this Mother’s Day at 2 p.m. (Though the Exhibition Coal Mine is not open on Sundays, the museum portion will be open from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. today for the public unveiling. Stroud and her family plan to attend.)

Read the full article here.

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