BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Zora “Big Mama” Stroud dedicated her life to a hard job that many women would have never even imagined, working for 23-years at Maple Meadow Mining Company, taking on all the same kinds of rough labor that any of the 200 or so men were doing, and proving just what a strong woman is capable of.
“When I first went underground, they told me that women weren’t supposed to be there, and I said, well buddy guess what, this woman is going to be here to stay,” says Ms. Stroud. “I said I’m going to be here when they close the doors and I was.”
Ms. Stroud’s daughter, Diane Williams, contacted the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine after taking an underground tour of the mine and realizing that there wasn’t a single dedication to the hard-working women miners like her mother.
“I came up here. I saw my grandfather James Chambers in one of the pictures and I saw several of the men coal miners in those pictures, but I didn’t see any representation of the women,” says Ms. Stroud’s daughter, Diane Williams. “And at that time I thought it was time for me to talk to someone about representing women coal miners, especially to leave a legacy of my mom who had worked in more than 20-years.”
But Ms. Zora Stroud finally got the recognition she deserves for all of her years of hard work, providing and setting a strong example for her children, and overcoming a job that many women would have never thought possible. And what day could have been any better than Mother’s Day for her to finally get such a special dedication?
“When I woke up this morning I was so happy, and the more I thought about it the more I would tear up,” Ms. Stroud says.
“We’re elated. We’re just so thankful that this day came,” says Diane.
A plaque now sits in the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine honoring Zora “Big Mama” Stroud and serving as an inspiration for all women for years to come. And many family members and people whose life has been impacted by Ms. Stroud all came out to celebrate this special day for her.