Megan E. Cox

Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Lynda Ann Ewen

Second Advisor

Julia Fox

Third Advisor

Richard Garnett

Fourth Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


This research assessed two major theories of black labor migration patterns, Marx’s theory of exploitation and Bonacich’s labor market segmentation. These theories have been applied to the coal producing counties of southern West Virginia. Institutional discrimination of black workers, coupled with the exploitation of coal miners in general, created the social relationship of super-exploitation.

This study investigated the conditions the coal companies utilized to aid and abet the exploitation of black workers and ultimately push black labor out of West Virginia. Also, this thesis examined the migration patterns of black workers into West Virginia from the failing southern agricultural industry and the out-migration from the industry due to labor market segmentation.

The primary methodology for this research was existing sources of data. U.S. Census records, mine reports, and labor reviews were analyzed to complement the theory of this project. These data sources were extended by interviews with a sample of black mine workers who were working in the mines during the time the study encompassed.


African American coal miners – Employment – West Virginia.

Discrimination in employment.