Dressed in a work clothes, face smudged with black, Fred Powers, former educator and UMWA miner, enters in the room in character. Powers has been performing his one-man show for various audiences since 2005. On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Fred will present his first-person portrayal of a coal miner at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at 7 p.m. The event is part of “The Dust We Leave Behind” an educational program supported through a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council. The presentation is free and open to the public.
A member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, Powers was born in McDowell County, West Virginia. The stories of his underground mining career span from age twenty until age forty as a third-generation coal miner. He was laid off in 1983 during the economic downturn of the 1980s in the coalfields at age 31. He worked full and part-time for B&H Mine Retrieving in Mercer County for the next nine years recovering underground mine equipment, mostly continuous miners, buried underneath massive roof falls within a five-state area until a co-worker friend was killed by poisonous gas.
Powers was hired in 1984 as a special education teacher in McDowell County. He also coached Special Olympics while teaching there for 20 years. He achieved his Master's Degree in Special Education in 1988. Continuing to teach for many years, Fred officially retired in 2010.
Fred has been a keynote speaker for West Virginia University Miner's Day Celebration. He has performed at Tamarack, various colleges, public schools, RESA I In-Service for Teachers, libraries, churches, festivals, and civic organizations.
This project is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center is located in a historic barn on the campus of Fairmont State University. Part of the College of Liberal Arts, the Folklife Center is home to scholarly research, archives, publications, community programs and events, workshops, exhibitions, and undergraduate studies in Folklore and Museum Studies.
For information about this program and others, call 304-367-4403 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.