Robert Armstead and I worked seventeen months
on Black Days, Black Dust: The Memories of an African
American Coal Miner. When I met Bob in 1997, he had fifty-two
handwritten pages. From that core and a discussion of what Bob wanted
to accomplish, we set to work. He continued writing. I typed and
organized. Next step, dig in for details. Hours at his kitchen table,
on his front porch, or on the telephone. Transcribe tapes. Don't
ask! During the last year, I also met monthly with my friend and
editor, Teresa Hearl. She shared the vision of preserving Bob's
words and voice. We struggled with wordsmithing but never lost focus:
make every paragraph flow. Finished, revised, polished, find a publisher.
Then that fateful call--January 25, 2001--The University of Tennessee
Press said, "Yes!"