Celebrate Black History Month with...
Rendville: Across the Color Line
A documentary film by Burr Beard, MFA Candidate in the Communication Media Arts program, Scripps College of Communication, at Ohio University.
Rendville is the smallest incorporated town in Ohio with 38 residents. In its heyday as a coal mining town in Perry County, Ohio, the 1900 US Census, shows Rendville growing from an all white community of 349 inhabitants in 1880 to a racially mixed town in which some three-fifths of its 790 inhabitants are white and two-fifths are African-American.
William P. Rend, a Chicago industrialist founded Rendville in 1879 and opened two mines there under the Sunday Creek Coal Company. The first, Mine Number 3, employed 140 men, all African-American. Mine Number 5 employed 170 men of whom 70 were black.
W.P. Rend, influenced by his Catholic faith, is a self proclaimed “hater of bigotry…and everything which tends to create animosity and ill-feeling between citizens and a people of a common country.”
In the mid to late 1800s African-American miners were first brought into the Southeast Ohio coalfields as strikebreakers who needed to be guarded by coal company police from white strikers who are pitted against the strikebreakers by race.
Rendville is unique in Ohio history as well as Appalachian coalfield history. In Rendville, African-American miners earned the same pay as whites, and the public school there was integrated long before any state or federal mandate.
Out of this unique progressive community comes Richard L. Davis, miner, union activist with the Knights of Labor and part of the transformation of the former union into a new United Mine Workers of America. Formed in Columbus, 1890, the UMWA saw Davis as secretary-treasurer with the UMWA executive council for two early terms.
This community project in documentary storytelling spotlights the history of Rendville with humanities interviews, including professor Franz Doppen, Patton School of Education at Ohio University and author of the 2016 book, “Richard L. Davis and the Color Line in Ohio Coal,” John Winnenberg, community organizer and history tourism professional who grew up in Corning, and author along with Cheryl Blosser of the book, “Agents of Change, The Pioneering Role of the Miners of the Little Cities of the Black Diamonds in the National Labor Movement.”
Also having grown up in Rendville in the 1950s and 1960s, Jerry Jackson, Janis Ivory and Harry Ivory are featured with interviews in the 18 minute documentary.
Burr Beard will be on hand with the film to lead a discussion on the film afterwards.
Program will take place on Saturday, February 9, 2019, at 10:30am. Click here see the story on our front page!
Photo from the Jerry Jackson personal photo collection picturing 3 girls on town hall steps in Rendville. Jerry Jackson grew up in Rendville in the 1950’s and 1960’s and is an interviewee featured in the Rendville: Across the Color Line documentary.
Program description from Mr. Burr Beard.