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Nannie Berger Hairston (1921-2017) was a local civil rights icon and a community leader who lived in Christiansburg, Virginia. Born in 1921 to a father who worked in the coalfields of West Virginia, she moved to Virginia in 1953 with her husband John. The Hairstons quickly established themselves as leaders in the local community. Ms. Hairston held numerous positions, including treasurer, in the local branch of the NAACP and continued to be an active member until her death. For a term of six years, she served on the board of the Virginia State Conference NAACP. Beyond the official offices, Hairston worked as a tireless advocate for employment opportunities for local African American women, opened her home to children in need, and hosted students from Virginia Tech when African Americans could not live on campus. 

The Nannie Berger Hairston Oral History Project was initiated by the Montgomery-Floyd-Regional Library (MFRL) and begun in the summer of 2015. The project was funded in part by the MFRL Friends of the Library, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. Twenty hours of audio interviews have been recorded in this life review, which focuses on all aspects of Ms. Hairston’s long life, with particular focus on the years of her work in community building and civil rights from the 1950s through the 1980s. Currently I am working on a manuscript based on the interviews.

African American woman holding a trophy


Oral History Project




2015 - 2016


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