ABOUT THIS BOOK
Essays by the foremost labor historian of the Black experience in the Appalachian coalfields.
This collection brings together nearly three decades of research on the African American experience, class, and race relations in the Appalachian coal industry. It shows how, with deep roots in the antebellum era of chattel slavery, West Virginia’s Black working class gradually picked up steam during the emancipation years following the Civil War and dramatically expanded during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
From there, African American Workers and the Appalachian Coal Industry highlights the decline of the region’s Black industrial proletariat under the impact of rapid technological, social, and political changes following World War II. It underscores how all miners suffered unemployment and outmigration from the region as global transformations took their toll on the coal industry, but emphasizes the disproportionately painful impact of declining bituminous coal production on African American workers, their families, and their communities. Joe Trotter not only reiterates the contributions of proletarianization to our knowledge of US labor and working-class history but also draws attention to the gender limits of studies of Black life that focus on class formation, while calling for new transnational perspectives on the subject. Equally important, this volume illuminates the intellectual journey of a noted labor historian with deep family roots in the southern Appalachian coalfields.