Kate Bradley

Emma Ruth “Kate” Hobbs Bradley was born 13 October 1932 in Petros, Tennessee, a small Appalachian coalfield community in the Cumberland Mountains. Kate was the sixth of seven surviving children in her family. Her father was a coalminer. Kate married Jacob “J.W.” Bradley in 1951. They were married for 67 years, until Kate’s death on 29 July 2019. Together they raised three children: Connie, Chip and Faith.

Kate led many local efforts to make her community a better, safer, and healthier place to live. J.W. and Kate co-founded Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) in response to the strip mining that was devastating the area around their home. Around this same time, Kate Bradley was working to secure land for what would become the Petros Health Clinic. The health clinic Kate helped open remained in Petros for many years. SOCM remains in effect, renamed Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment.


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On the SHC’s provision of hope as fuel for systemic change to rural healthcare

Kate and J.W. Bradley share sweet reflections of the friendships made during the Student Health Coalition’s community organizing efforts in rural Tennessee, and explain that the organization’s leader, Bill Dow, gave them hope to change what they’d always been told… Continued

Sue Love Student Health Coalition Meeting Photographs, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Sue C. Love participated in the Rural Student Health Coalition in the early 1970s as a medical worker and attended medical school at Vanderbilt University. At the same time, her future husband Cliff Love served as a community worker. Included… Continued

Please share your memories of Kate Bradley

Please share your memories and reflections about Kate Bradley, or notes and condolences to the Bradley family, using the comment box below. Continued

Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM)

SOCM began in 1971 under the leadership of J.W. Bradley, who sought fair taxation of absentee land corporations. They appealed to the Tennessee government, and won their first battle. Bolstered by their success, the organization then hoped to help local… Continued

Interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley by Evangeline Mee, 29 May 2012, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill

Topics discussed in this interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley include: birth in Petros, Tenn.; life history overview; coal mining father; history of Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM); women’s role in SOCM; relationship of Vanderbilt University medical students; Student… Continued

Interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley by Evangeline Mee, 11 August 2012, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill

This interview with J.W. Bradley and Kate Bradley is a follow up to interview U-0803. J.W. Bradley was born in Petros, Tenn., a coalfield community in the Cumberlands. He served as deputy sheriff in Petros. He was one of the… Continued

“I will always be grateful for the gifts that the work and the people of those summers gave to me.”

[Story contributed by Angela Carroll Healy, M.D.] Dear All, Seeing the videos and reading the memories of other Coalitioners has made me want to share what working with the Student Health Coalition meant to me. I was a Brooklyn girl,… Continued

Reflections on the SHC’s sense of fashion

Kate Bradley and Marie Cirillo share some laughs thinking back to the effort Student Health Coalition participants put toward demonstrating modesty and respect so as to cultivate relationships with community members. But sporting bowl cuts, long skirts, and duct-taped shoes… Continued

Perry Steele on Summer 1972

[Story contributed by Perry Steele, 15 May 2017]  I was finishing my sophomore year at Vanderbilt. Nixon hadn’t drafted me. For some reason Professor Scott suggested I could be a community organizer. Having no other plans for the summer, I… Continued

“Later then, he sent me a check for $10,000”

An interview with Kate Bradley about how she received the money to build a health clinic in Petros, TN. Continued

“Radical Hearts” and their dress code

Margaret Ecker reminisces with the Appalachian Student Health Coalition at a gathering in 2013.   Her story about the students’ dress code was influenced by the clip below of Kate and J. W. Bradley, where they discuss what their community said about the… Continued

Lewis Lefkowitz on the Student Health Coalition’s key accomplishments

Lewis Lefkowitz recalls what facilitated the Student Health Coalition’s success. He discusses the organization’s framework of community mobilization and agency, and furthermore highlights the leadership legacy of Kate and JW Bradley. Recorded December 1, 2015.   Full footage of his… Continued

J.W. and Kate Bradley Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Records, correspondence, and printed material related to the involvement of J. W. Bradley with Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), an organization founded to support community issues arising from the increase in strip mining in Eastern Tennessee during the 1970s and… Continued

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