Former professor returns
She protested policies on coal miners, sat in front of coal trucks, and was fired from East Tennessee State University.
After 40 years, Helen Matthews Lewis has returned to campus to discuss her book of writings.
"I guess I was just in the right place at the right time for that," Lewis said. "But I was there and had several people who believed in better rights for coal miners, so we just sat down in front of the tow trucks."
Lewis, who was released from ETSU for "nurturing radical students," was one of a two teachers the university removed during the late '60s and early '70s.
The other teacher who was removed, Ed Knipe, was a tenured professor in the sociology department at the time.
A few people were outraged at the way ETSU was treating their employees, and several publications were started to reflect these feelings.
"I remember one was called 'The Frigot," Lewis said. "Their motto was, 'If you don't like it, frigot.' And I liked that one."
After she was released from the university, Lewis wrote a letter to the editor to The Pirate Press, the forerunner of the East Tennessean, that cleared up the way she thought about her removal.
"The university is not a business," Lewis said in the letter. "It is an institution with the purpose of educating students, which includes ... liberating minds and encouraging free and critical thinking."
Apart from educating the young minds enrolled in her sociology class, Lewis' main cause was a fight for the families of coal miners.
At the time, miners didn't receive any extra insurance or pensions, and were fairly low paid. Lewis fought for a tax on coal that supported coal industry workers.
Her book, "Living Social Justice in America," Lewis talks about the struggles and strides she made in social issues within the Appalachian region.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More East Tennessean News Articles
Recent East Tennessean News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR EAST TENNESSEAN NEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST EAST TENNESSEAN NEWS
RECENT EAST TENNESSEAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Shave Strokes off Your Golf Game -- Without the Eraser
- Stay Cool With a Ceiling Fan as Stylish as It Is Functional
- Have a Blast With the Family This Summer, but Stay Safe
- Chiropractic Careers Are on the Rise
- Choosing the Right Home Health Care Agency
- Pop the Champagne Diamond for Your Seasonal Fashion...
- Managing Pain: Are You Reading Your Medicine Labels?
- Does Your Garbage Want to Be Recycled?
- You Can Quit
- Pinching Penny Stocks May Be the Wise Way to Invest