Activism

Above is a portrait of a miner in his helmet. He is pictured in black and white, wearing a white collared shirt over an undershirt. On his helmet is a sticker with a skull and crossbones that says “Black Lung Kills.” His wrinkled face holds a plain, dry expression that holds a tinge of pain that underscores the message on the helmet. It suggests one of the many ways Black Lung can affect miners. Whether they know someone suffering from the sickness, they are suffering themselves, or know that their future community may suffer from it, as the coal industry is the major economic driver; this pain is one felt by many Appalachians. Even as the coal industry is one of the main employers in Appalachia, as mining technology progressed the need to employ as many miners decreased. This meant not only those formerly employed in coal mines have Black Lung, but also a rise in unemployment. The pain expressed by this man's expression is representative of the immense damage the coal industry has caused the Appalachian region--economically, environmentally, and emotionally. 

The gallery below holds many examples of Appalachians pushing back against this long-standing problem in the late 60s and early 70s. This was done through multiple avenues, including more traditional approaches such as engaging in electoral politics through the Bert Combs gubernatorial campaign and attending public hearings on the effects of strip mining and mountaintop removal. Outside of conventional means, protests and rallies such as the Stillhouse Branch protest where members of the Appalachian Group to Save Land and People (AGSLP) locked hands and used their bodies as physical barriers to block coal-transport trucks. Although methods varied, many Appalachians were active in using their voice to speak out against the transgressions of the coal industry.