This book is entitled Try and Be Somebody” because that was the advice that his father gave Henry Lake Dickason (1887-1957) when he left the farm where he grew up and where his enslaved paternal grandparents had worked and remained after emancipation. Dickason knew all four of his grandparents, all of whom were born enslaved. His family lived in a log cabin on Peters Mountain in Monroe County, West Virginia. He started school in a one-room schoolhouse where his father served as teacher. Since there were not high schools available for people of color where he lived, at 16 he became a residential student at Bluefield Colored Institute (BCI). He graduated in three years and returned to his family’s farm. The following year, BCI began offering a program to train teachers, and Dickason returned. His math teacher, Grace Robinson, urged him to go to college, and he was accepted at Ohio State University. In 1913 he earned a Bachelor’s degree and in the following year a Masters, both in math. Then he returned to BCI as a teacher and married Grace Robinson. In 1919, she died. In 1931 the school became Bluefield State Teacher’s College, and the next year Dickason married another teacher there, Flossie Mack, and assumed the position of Dean. In 1936 he became President of Bluefield State at a time when most African-American colleges had white presidents. In 1952 at the age of 65, he retired and his family moved to the farm on Peters Mountain where he was raised. The next year he was recruited to become President of Morristown College, and held that position until his death in 1957. “Dr. Henry Lake Dickason was somebody . . . Crabtree’s well researched and, above all, sensitive narrative of Dickason’s journey evokes the warmth of family, the love of place, and the depths of a young man’s striving soul. – Vicki Lane. The author, Becky Hatcher Crabtree, was born in Bluefield and worked as a teacher in several West Virginia locations and on the north slope of Alaska. This is her fourth book.
Anchorage, Alaska: Fathom Publishing Company, 2019.153 pages with an Index, appendices, charts, maps, and lots of black-and-white photos. 7.5” X 9.75” trade paperback.