November 8, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will celebrate the birthday of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd with a tribute, entitled The Conscience of the Senate, and slide show presentation by Paul J. Nyden of Charleston in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. Nyden’s talk will be followed by a recognition reception in the Great Hall. The tribute and reception are free and the public is invited to attend this special occasion in memory of Byrd.
Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the WVDCH and Anne Barth, former state director for Sen. Byrd’s office, will join Nyden in greeting guests during the reception.
Nyden’s talk will detail many of Byrd’s unique achievements during 57 years spent in Congress and the Senate, after growing up poor in the southern West Virginia coalfields. He will elaborate on the benefits Byrd’s long-term tenure brought to West Virginia, including the building of new interstates and roads, bringing federal office buildings to the state and protecting and expanding the Air National Guard facilities in the state. Nyden will discuss Byrd’s support for the coal industry and for mine safety laws, as well as his efforts to protect steel industry jobs from foreign imports and free trade agreements.
Nyden also will explain the senator’s major role in foreign policy issues, including his most recent opposition to the Iraq War. In addition, he will address Byrd’s long devotion to his high school sweetheart and wife, Erma, his family, and his abiding passion for playing the fiddle.
The slide show presentation will have pictures of Byrd throughout his life, from childhood to more recent times including a recent photograph of Sen. Ted Kennedy and his dog visiting Byrd in his office, and Byrd speaking at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston. There also will be pictures of Byrd appearing on the Grand Ole Opry, walking down the railroad tracks in Stotesbury with Erma, and talking with a number of political figures like Sen. Jennings Randolph.
Nyden has been a reporter for the Charleston Gazette since 1982, covering political, environmental, labor and foreign policy issues. For the past 10 years, he has written extensively about the activities and speeches of Sen. Byrd.
Nyden received his doctorate in sociology from Columbia University in 1974, after completing his dissertation, “Miners for Democracy: Struggle in the Coalfields.” Since 1994, he has taught courses in sociology and labor history at West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
Nyden has won a myriad of reporting awards, including a George Polk Award for business reporting and three first-place national awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
For more information about the tribute to Byrd, The Conscience of the Senate, contact Bryan Ward, assistant director of archives and history for the Division, at (304) 558-0230.
With the leadership of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, Kay Goodwin, cabinet secretary, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.