Coal Mine “momma” honored at Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– Zora Stroud worked underground in the Coal mines for more than 20 years. She got the nickname big momma, and chocolate momma because of the color of her skin and how she can lift anything the men can.

Stroud is the first African American woman to retire from the mines.

“It was a long time coming, the recognized all the men and I was the only woman that worked underground with them in 20 years and they act like I didn’t work with them. You know what I am saying. So my daughter was like momma we are going to have to do something about that,” Stroud said.

One day, her daughter Diane Williams and granddaughter went to the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley to show her how many family members were in the coal mines. She said there were no other women represented there.

Williams saw one picture of her grandfather and decided something needed to change. That is when she reached out to Leslie Baker.

“I thought it was time for me to talk to someone about representing women coal miners especially my mom who worked in there for more than 20 years. So, with that being said, I put together a presentation,” Williams said.

Zora said she was excited her family did this for her and for the amount of people who came out on this special day. Her grandson Jermaine Saunders says she deserves this.

“It is definitely an honor that she has set a legacy for a family and to know that she has done things that made history” Jermaine Saunders said.

Zora’s son Christopher Saunders said she was his role model and the reason why he decided to work in the coal mines. He loves to see his mother happy, and he said he got to see just that.

“I was very proud of my mom. My mom taught us how to be men even though she was a woman. I respected my mom because she did go out and work and provide for us,” Christopher Saunders said.

Honoring a strong woman on Mother’s Day.

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