Teacher, Lawyer, Writer (1921— )
He was born on the 12th day of March 1921, in a cottage on Russell Street in Charleston, West Virginia, to a young couple who had left the country for the city after the First World War. He lived there during the Roaring Twenties, that time when men gambled recklessly on the market and women cut their hair, shortened their skirts and took to cigarettes.
The Great Depression quieted the roar and brought financial wreck to his family. But it was a disguised blessing in that it caused him to leave Charleston and live with his grandparents on a farm near Hinton, West Virginia, where he learned to work and to live intimately with nature.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps three days after Pearl Harbor. During the four years he spent in the army, he began to integrate himself and to focus on what he wanted to do with his life. The GI Bill of Rights allowed him to attend Washington and Lee University to acquire a degree in the liberal arts and to meet Plato, Tolstoy, Dickens, et al.
He taught in the public schools of Virginia, until he was summarily fired for writing letters to the editor raging against Virginia's racist reaction to court-ordered desegregation of its public schools. He eventually returned to Washington and Lee and acquired a law degree and, in 1972, settled in Hinton to practice law.
As the consequence of a life-long friendship with a comrade who inherited a weekly newspaper In Nicholas County, WV, he began in 1992 to write a column for the Nicholas Chronicle. A friend collected some of the columns and prefaced them thusly:
“Perry Mann is among the most thoughtful, informed and articulate progressive thinkers and writers in America today. He writes deeply on wide-ranging issues, including politics, ecology, history, economics, civil rights, religion, philosophy, and rural life. He has produced what may be the most cogent collection of critiques of the Religious Right to ever appear in this country.”
[The caption was submitted by the subject who is a former teacher and long-time friend of the artist.]