Book on Pioneer Community Organizer Don West

Posted on March 26, 2004

[posted to Comm-Org]

From: “George Brosi”

A new book has just been released about a pioneer community organizer, Don West (1906-1992). A native of Gilmer County, in the North Georgia mountains, West graduated from Lincoln Memorial University with fellow literary luminaries James Still and Jesse Stuart in 1929. As a student at Vanderbilt he got involved in
the Wilder, Tennessee, coal strike and, in 1932, co-founded, with Myles Horton, the Highlander Folk School which became famous as a fountainhead for labor and civil rights activism. After Myles and Don split, Don organized a defense committee for Angela Herndon, a Black communist activist in Atlanta, worked with
textile workers in North Carolina, organized coal miners and the unemployed in Kentucky, and was active in numerous other struggles throughout the South. In the 1960s he founded the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, West Virginia, and remained there essentially for the rest of his life. This book
is a Don West reader, allowing Don to speak for himself. It includes both his poetry and his prose. Of special interest is his historical and biographical work on Southern activists of previous eras. The book is co-edited by Jeff Biggers, who worked with Don in West Virginia and George Brosi, who enjoyed a
thirty-year frendship with Don. Brosi is a former organizer for Students for a Democratic Society, Save Our Cumberland Mountains and other groups and the founder of Vocations for Social Change.

Go to:

Thanks so much!
George Brosi
Editor, Appalachian Heritage
CPO 2166
Berea, KY 40404
(859) 985-3699
Please visit our web site at

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