Aunt Molly Jackson

Aunt Molly Jackson (1880-1960) was a midwife, singer/songwriter, and union organizer from Kentucky.

“When people ask Aunt Molly Jackson, born Mary Magdalene Garland, whether she’s English or Irish, she smiles and her kindly gray eyes grow misty. ‘I’m neither,’ she says. ‘I’m a ‘mixtry’ of joy and sorrow.’ It’s mostly sorrow, but Aunt Molly doesn’t add that. ‘The Brave Hero of Kentucky,’ they call her in her mountains. Aunt Molly lives in Bell County, Kentucky, ‘where men starve, and the hands of little children have to be bound to keep them from gnawing their own flesh.’ Her husband and stepson work in the mines when there’s work to be had, as did her father. She goes from Bell to Harlan County and back again, begging bread and clothing for the starving and the unclad, and finding shelter for the homeless…. ‘So I’ve come to hate Kentucky. There isn’t any just law there. Tongue can’t express the horror and sorrow we’ve gone through. The white people are worse off there now than the Negroes were under slavery. There isn’t any other place in the world as hard-hearted and cruel. They rob the little children of bread and the grownups of clothing. It’s heart-rending to memory, all these things…. I’d be glad never to see Kentucky again,’ she said, ‘if it weren’t for my loved ones.’”

—"Aunt Molly Jackson Joy-Sorrow 'Mixtry,'"

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (6 Dec 1931, p. 46)

I Am a Union Woman