Thursday, February 9, 2012

Larry Gibson to Speak at Hawks Nest Premiere

This Post is a reprint of a press release for this event 

Presenting: Hawks Nest: Blood Beneath Our Feet

A Black History Month Program sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Where: Cultural Culture Center
Capitol Complex, Charleston, West Virginia

When: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 3pm

Contact: Kate McComas (304-521-7444 )

For immediate release:

Award winning film makers Mari-Lynn Evans and Phylis Geller will premiere the trailer for Hawks Nest: Blood Beneath Our Feet as part of the Black History Month Celebration at the Culture Center on February 19, 2012 from 3pm to 5pm.

The keynote speaker will Dr. Wilburn Hayden, a leading expert on the history of blacks in Appalachia with long and distinguished as a university scholar and social activist.  He was featured in the PBS documentary film "The Appalachians," which has been shown regularly on local PBS stations since April 2005. Dr. Hayden who grew up in Forsyth County, North Carolina, has taught in three Appalachian institutions of higher learning and has been involved in Appalachian studies for a lifetime.

Rev. Ron English, Rev. Mathew Watts and Pastor Paul Dunn will speak about the tragedy and triumph of the Hawk Nest Tunnel Disaster as an untold story hidden in the hollows of Appalachian hills and its relevance to critical issues shaping the current narrative of socio-economic injustice in our state and nation. Moreover, the Hawks Nest story amplifies the insult of marginal visibility of African Americans in Appalachia whose history has been largely ignored primarily due to the paucity and decline of the black presence in the area.

Industrialization stimulated the migration. The Hawks Nest documentary uncovers details of events that betrayed the hopes of African American ex-slaves who migrated into Appalachia to work in the mining and railroad industries at the turn of the century but were left vulnerable to massive exploitation and victimization by corporate giants in the 1930s. Yet the story also reveals the peculiar paradox of triumph emerging out of tragedy and the genesis of the black middle class in West Virginia.

To honor the victims of the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster, Dave Saville, of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, will announce the donation of 2,500 trees for a memorial forest .

Kenny Perdue, President of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, will speak about the significance of the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster on the formation of Worker’s Compensation legislation.

Larry Gibson, the founder of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and longtime community activist whose father worked at Hawks Nest, will also be a featured speaker.

Music for the program will reflect the shared cross cultural “roots” of soul music. Gospel and praise music will be performed by the Shabbat Choir from First Baptist, Charleston and blues and country sounds will be provided by well-known local artists John Lily, Lady D and other special musical guests.

A reception will follow the program. This event is free and open to the public.