Mabel Parker Hardison Smith

Director: Anne Lewis Johnson
Release Year: 1985
Running Time: 28:38
Original Format: 3/4" Umatic
Color / B&W: color

Mabel Parker Hardison Smith is a black Appalachian who taught school for over 35 years in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. Beloved by students from several generations, she is also well known for her musical abilities as organist for her church and a local gospel group. Full of humor and vitality, Mabel Smith speaks eloquently about her family’s history in the deep South, their migration to the mountains, and life in the segregated coal camps. Widowed while pregnant with her third child, she describes how she went to college and became a teacher despite personal and financial difficulties. Mabel’s story is that of a strong woman whose dignity, conviction, and faith saw her through some very difficult times.

Screenings & Festivals

Anthros ’87/The Barbara Myerhoff Film Festival

Atlanta Independent Film


“Smith articulately recollects the life of a black miner’s family while archival and personal photos fascinatingly illustrate her colorful narration. An appealing character study for public library audiences and special interest groups and classes.” –Booklist

“Literally hundreds of African-Americans from Appalachia who’ve left their ’footprints in the sands of time’ admit readily that they were standing on the shoulders of great teachers in the area’s ’colored’ schools, teachers like Mabel Parker Hardison Smith. I thank God for the ’Mabels in the Mountains.’” –William Turner, Department of Sociology, Winston-Salem State University