Thomas E. Posey’s classic book, The Negro Citizen of West Virginia, published in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression, documents the history of African-Americans in a state that practiced racial segregation but permitted blacks to participate in its political and economic affairs.
Posey, a professor of economics at West Virginia State College (1927–51), later headed the Labor and Industry Division of the U.S. Agency for International Employment. His book traces the historic role of black West Virginians, elaborating on their accomplishments individually and collectively within a segregated society. In addition, Posey discusses essential social legislation and litigation. The section titled ‘‘The Negro in the Courts of West Virginia,’’ which outlines significant court cases that helped to establish equal rights for all citizens, is especially useful. Posey concludes that ‘‘there is no state in the Union with more constructive legislation pertaining exclusively to Negroes than the state of West Virginia.’’ The book also has a section titled ‘‘The Education of the Negro in West Virginia.’’ Posey discusses the evolution of separate educational and other facilities during the period of segregation in West Virginia and outlines how much of the social infrastructure for African-Americans was won through black political participation. This was especially true in the southern coalfields, where black politicians attained considerable power.
Written by I. D. "Duke" Talbott
Posey, Thomas E. The Negro Citizen of West Virginia. Institute: Press of West Virginia State College, 1934.