Coal miner’s Daughter
Mackenzie New Walker, Matewan
Executive director at the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum
A FAMILY HISTORY
“I grew up in Cub Creek, a small holler in Wyoming County. My dad, grandfather, and great-grandfathers were all union coal miners. I grew up hearing their stories about my family sitting on the front porch or at family reunions. That was part of what drew me to the museum—seeing similar stories being told through their voices and the voices of families like mine. It gave them agency they hadn’t had before, since their stories are so often told from an outsiders-looking-in perspective.”
“One thing I keep close to my heart is that I am carrying on my family’s legacy, but also building a future. I get to honor the work of my papaw and my great-grandfathers, which is a powerful thing. It’s a chance to flip the negative stereotypes that our people so often get. I get to help instill pride in the local communities and preserve our working-class history, and uplift voices that are kept out of historical narratives. That kind of work keeps me going.
“We’re coming up on the Blair Mountain Centennial commemoration, and the whole planning process has been incredible, including building a community around this history and creating new narratives about our state and its people. We are always thinking about ways we can make a larger impact beyond Matewan, how we can branch out and continue working with people in southern West Virginia communities to make their voices heard.”
Learn more about our Wonder Women
Since 2014 WV Living magazine has been honoring West Virginia Wonder Women, amazing women who are raising the bar in their communities, serving as beacons of light in their industries, and forcing change for the greater good. WV Living is proud to celebrate these Appalachian mothers, millennials, and mavens proving that in a time full of uncertainty, divisiveness, and hate, love for one another is all we really need. No need for bulletproof bracelets or a golden lasso of truth—these women are creating a better West Virginia with their can-do attitudes and Mountain State spirit.