NIMROD WORKMAN: TO FIT MY OWN CATEGORY
dir. Scott Faulkner and Anthony Slone, 35 min.
dir. Addison Post, 20 min.
FRIDAY, APRIL 6 – 7:30 PM with Q&A by Addison Post
THURSDAY, APRIL 19 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, APRIL 29 – 7:30 PM with Q&A by Addison Post
Documents and images of West Virginia often revolve around natural resource extraction and the human labor entwined in it. Coal mining depletes the human body and creates monuments of wealth for land speculators and business owners. But in the case of Nimrod Workman, it also refines more noble priorities of union solidarity, humor, and songs for every occasion. Last month a wildcat strike lasted over two weeks, bringing a 5% wage increase for West Virginia teachers. The persevering spirit came from the same state of Mother Jones, the United Mine Workers, and Blair Mountain.
The short film “Without Coal” shows sweeping natural views of West Virginia – filled with the ache of a lost industry but also a landscape changed by ore extraction. The coal industry has been creeping away long enough that the towns have emptied and very few believe the Republican rhetoric that these jobs can come back. Director Addison Post seeks out those who are building new options and trying out new identities, while dealing with the loss of community and the huge financial burden.
“To Fit My Own Category” is a 1975 film from Appalshop, the venerable media and education center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Nimrod Workman is a former union coal miner, who was forced to retire due to black lung and a back injury. He too has to adjust to a life without coal, although his spirit remains tied to his union past and he still pledges to fight for economic justice. He sings songs on any subject, whether God, food, love, or union solidarity. At one point the septuagenarian swings upside-down from a ladder like a kid, making his wife laugh and tell the director that this is what she has to put up with.
A portion of the proceeds from this event will go towards an NEH-supported project to improve access to Appalshop Archive’s collections and create public events fostering civic engagement, reflection, and inquiry. Through its Humanities Access Challenge program, the NEH will match non-federal contributions dollar-for-dollar through April 30, 2018. For more information about this project, please see the press release at appalshoparchive.org.