African Americans in Appalachia
"The Silver Spade", a Bucyrus-Erie 1950-B stripping shovel, operated by Consolidation Coal Company.(www.coaleducation.org)
After World War II, the use of automation in the mines increased dramatically. Machines doubled production and vastly cut the need for manpower. Between 1950 and 1965, deep mining was replaced by strip mining, reducing the need for laborers even further. Company supervisors were reluctant to use African Americans as machine operators, which resulted in massive layoffs. In a familiar pattern, African American miners began to leave the coal fields for more urban Appalachian communities and beyond. Despite this migration, African Americans continue to be the largest minority group in Appalachia.