There are so many stereotypes about WV. Some think WV is just the western part of Virginia. However, WV is an important state in our great country. This coal mining state helped fuel the Industrial Revolution and maintains a place of importance today. WV History needs to be taught in our classrooms during the school year to help stop stereotypes of our wonderful state! Teaching WV History as a regular subject teaches the history and solidarity of the WV Unions, that people from WV are achievers and there is a lot of art and culture in our state. Each grade could be taught a part of WV History. Elementary students should be learning state symbols and the upper grades important landmarks and people. Each grade would be taught longer units lasting throughout the year.
WV miners fought to unionize to help with poor mining conditions. The United Mine Workers of America have been strong in WV for 129 years. They have maintained a strong union. WV had deadly coal mining accidents and the nation’s worst coal mining explosion at a mine in Monongah, WV located in Marion County. Workers went on strike and this led to the Mine Wars of WV. The striking coal miners wore red bandanas as a part of their uniforms to show they were part of the union. This became the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. The history of this is important to know because the UMWA has supported the teachers of WV when they have gone on strike the past two years to better the education system for the students of WV. The red bandana has shown up again in the WV Teacher Strike show the symbol of unity.
West Virginians are not hillbillies wearing blue overalls and square dancing every day. We have an Olympic gold medalist, Mary Lou Retton, a NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson, WV teachers are Forbe’s Magazines 2018 List of World’s Greatest Leaders (ranking number 31) and now the Cyber Security Pithons who
made WV history making the semi-finals after eleven years of being in the competition. West Virginians are strong and resourceful. Students can be taught who the hard working people are from WV. There are so many from the previously listed to famous actors/actress, Jennifer Garner that still comes to help our state in crisis to famous musicians, Brad Paisley. WV is resourceful from being the leader in the Industrial Revolution but when the railroads and businesses left the state, WV stood strong together and overcame again.
Due to the stereotypes of our state, many think arts and culture do not exist in WV. Stereotypes have given the idea that the only music scenes involve banjo or bluegrass music. This is very far from the truth. West Virginians are proud of their heritage but thrive in the music scene. There are many bands in local cities, including Charleston and Morgantown. Both cities host Mainstage that highlight up and coming musicians as well as nationally known musicians. ArtWalks are self-guided walking tours of shops, galleries and businesses featuring varieties of art. They are usually held one evening a month. Charleston has one on the third Thursday of each month and Morgantown has them throughout the year.
WV history should be taught in schools the entire school year. The stereotypical thinking needs to be broken. Teaching WV History as a regular subject teaches the history and solidarity of the WV Unions that people from WV are achievers and there is a lot of art and culture in our state. There is so much history to be learned. This knowledge leads to knowing what is around you. The UMWA showed solidarity to our WV teachers. Many great people were born in WV and have gone on to do many wonderful things. West Virginia has been a terrific place to live.