Drew Foley Marches on Blair Mountain

Excerpt from Louisville Sierra Club member Drew Foley’s report. Drew’s full write-up is in the August issue of The Cumberland.

“I wanted to march to protest MTR, the virtual rape of Earth which is occurring in my home state and all over Appalachia.  Also, for years I had been asking:  If we can mass thousands of people in DC, to rally against MTR, why can’t we do the same at an actual site?  This was my chance; I felt morally bound to go….”

” As we walked through the few small towns, there were always signs saying things like “Tree huggers go home,”  “Friends of coal,” and “MTR supports my family.”  But there were also signs of support like “Welcome Blair Mountain Marchers.”  I recall only four instances of vocal counter-protesting from small groups.  We were constantly reminded by the peacekeeping team, “Don’t engage!” and we didn’t.”

“I estimate that 75% of the marchers and 90% of the organizers were under age 25. Our fate was in the hands of the young, and they performed magnificently.  The organizers operated by consensus, which made for long waits, but good decisions.  As a 60-year old, I was impressed with the youth culture of today.  It was amazingly open-hearted, patient, accepting.  I felt like I was the only one feeling uncomfortable due to lack of creature comforts.  If the young folks at the march are at all representative of U.S. youth in general, then I have much hope….”

One final thing:  The organizers’ vision of environmental, preservation, and labor union participation was brilliant.  I believe the march would have been much less successful had it addressed MTR alone.  This is a good reminder that care for Earth is inextricably linked with environmental and social justice.

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