March 3, 1890: Teacher, Civic Activist Memphis Tennessee Carter Born

Mar 3, 2017

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Ohio University Press, publishers of Ancella R. Bickley & Lynda Ann Ewen, eds., "Memphis Tennessee Garrison: The Remarkable Story of a Black Appalachian Woman" (Athens, 2001)

Teacher and civic activist Memphis Tennessee Carter was born in Hollins, Virginia, on March 3, 1890.

Her father, a former slave, was a coal miner who moved his family to southern West Virginia when Memphis was a child.

She eventually married a coal company foreman and became Memphis Tennessee Garrison. She graduated from Bluefield State College at age 49 and taught school in McDowell County.

Serving also as a welfare worker for the U.S. Steel Corporation, Garrison helped settle racial disputes, counseled black miners and their families, and developed cultural and recreational opportunities in the town of Gary.

She was active in the Republican Party and developed NAACP chapters in southern West Virginia. As a national vice president and field secretary for the NAACP, she led special organizing and membership activities. A crowning achievement of her work was the creation of the Christmas Seal Project, which became a key fund-raising strategy for the NAACP.

After retiring from McDowell County schools, she relocated to Huntington and continued to work as a substitute teacher. Memphis Tennessee Garrison died in Huntington in 1988 at the age of 98.