Choose Fathom

fascinating and fast-paced story ...

—Fred Ziegler, President, Monroe County (WV) Historical Society

A finely researched
and organized work.

—Heidi Houck, Teacher and Library Media Specialist, Mountain View School, Union, West Virginia

It is a book for our times.

—Vanni Prichard, Educational Consultant

Try and Be Somebody

Read about Becky and
Try and Be Somebody

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Try and Be Somebody

Becky Hatcher Crabtree with Merri Jackson Hess

The life of Dr. Henry Lake Dickason, first president of Bluefield State College and early leader of Black education, is documented in this biography.

Dickason was born two decades after the Civil War ended and grew up in a log cabin on Peters Mountain near Lindside, West Virginia.  He learned about slavery from his grandparents on both sides of the family. All four were slaves, his father's parents on the farm where Dr. Dickason grew up and his mother's parents on a farm at Gap Mills, West Virginia. He learned about the oppression of segregation, especially the limited opportunity for black children to get an education, from the struggles of his own life. He became a driving force in racial pride and in ensuring that education was available for all those in southern West Virginia who desired to learn.

More book and author details along with downloadable images available at

fascinating and fast-paced

This is the fascinating and fast-paced story of the grandson of slaves whose career was devoted to the Bluefield Colored Institute, later to morph from a high school to the Bluefield State College. “Lake” was encouraged by his father, also his teacher in a one-room log school, to attend Bluefield where a high school education was available to black students. Eventually he met a math teacher who encouraged him to work for a degree at Ohio State so he could return and teach, and also to marry her!

The story follows the triumphs and tragedies of schoolwork as well as family life at a time when tuberculosis and infection were difficult to cure. Becky Crabtree has thoroughly documented this historical novel with 55 illustrations ranging from vintage photos, to college archives, to newspaper articles, to handwritten letters. These cover Dickason’s entire life from 1886-1957 and talk about his encounters with such diverse notables, as Leontyne Price, Thurgood Marshall, Count Bassie and Eleanor Roosevelt! Also included are the influences of William Du Bois and Booker T. Washington on educational philosophy. Dickason’s life is set in the border county of Monroe, one of the most beautiful rural areas in West Virginia.
—Fred Ziegler, President Monroe County (WV) Historical Society

finely researched and organized work

A finely researched and organized work. Crabtree accomplished her goal of sharing the extraordinary life of this ordinary man. The life of Dr. Dickason will surely inspire any young mind to work for their dreams. It’s proof that one life can make a difference with hard work and a passionate attitude. I feel inspired after reading about his remarkable life and agree that this story needs to be shared.
—Heidi Houck, Teacher and Library Media Specialist Mountain View School, Union, West Virginia

wonderful job

Becky has done a wonderful job on the book of the life of Lake Dickason. I was born and raised in the village of Lindside. I did not know Lake as I grew up but can remember people talking about him. He was greatly admired by everyone in our community. After Lake passed away, Flossie moved back to Lindside and we became friends. Flossie was a well-educated lady and her thoughts and ideals were a little different from most of the people in our community. I am truly blessed to have called her my friend.
—Sara “Susie” Ballard Wickline Lindside, West Virginia resident




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