One of the themes for our work this year is "movement." All across the planet, plans are already underway for mass bike rides, marches, and a parades for September 24's global day of climate action, "Moving Planet." This week, hundreds of people in Appalachia are showing us what movement is all about with the March On Blair Mountain. Read the post below for an update on the march and the ongoing struggle to end mountaintop removal coal mining forever.
The March on Blair Mountain is on its fourth day and numbers are rising. Despite hot sun and tired feet, over 300 marchers are singing, chanting and carrying signs memorializing mountains destroyed and communities put in jeopardy from mountaintop removal. They are also drawing closer to the site of 1921’s Battle of Blair Mountain. On Saturday, 1500 people plan on joining us in Blair, WV for an unprecedented rally to save the mountain, end mountaintop removal, support union coal miners and create sustainable jobs for central Appalachia. To do this effectively, we need your support.
Marchers have been met with supportive chants, calls and even flowers and waving school children along the route. This has occurred even though the coal industry has exerted great pressure on campsite owners and operators who have shut them out of six different sites in the past two weeks for overnight housing.
“What we do know is that many of the owners of these campsites were very hospitable at first, but have since said with regret that we cannot rest on their property,” said Chuck Keeney, great-grandson of famed UMWA leader Frank Keeney. “The coal companies are trying to stop us by throwing obstacles and propaganda in our way. Still we march on. The time is now. The place is Blair Mountain, West Virginia.”
Wide-reaching press coverage echos Keeney’s sentiment: the march has been featured on the front page of the U.S. section of Fox News and the Nation, Grist and the Washington Post. On a local level, the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and Logan Banner have all been reporting on the story. Hundreds have heard about the march since it began on Monday, and have decided to join Saturday’s rally. We are working to meet the logistical needs of this increased number.
What we need are the nuts and bolts of making a rally effective and safe: drinking water, toilet facilities, gas and buses. Your donation will help us meet our fundraising goal of $30,000, $16,000 of which has been raised in the last three days.
Stand with us to save Blair Mountain, preserve West Virginia history, create sustainable jobs for Appalachia and support union coal miners.
Photo by Cheshire Tongkat