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Making a 'Sacred Zone' in Appalachia

Published on Monday, May 4, 2009 by Daily Yonder
Making a 'Sacred Zone' in Appalachia
It's not enough to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. The goal is to build a new Appalachia.

by Bob Kincaid

"When people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory"

--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 3 April 1968


Common Dreams - It is April 4, 2009, as I write. A year ago, a handful of community residents gathered on a mountain here in Fayette County, West Virginia, to pray for a mountain that has stood sentinel over our homes for generations. We prayed because, like so many other mountains in Appalachia, it, and we, are under attack.

That attack is prosecuted is by a coal company willing to sacrifice us for a load of coal. A day more than forty-one years ago, Dr. King said, "It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do."

In the last speech of his life, made in Memphis at the confluence of civil rights and labor rights, Dr. King staked out new ground that took his movement beyond the struggle for basic civil rights. He said he had been to the mountaintop; that he had looked over Jordan.

The New York Times recently described mountaintop removal as "Appalachia's Agony." Understanding the destruction that comes when mountaintops are sliced away to get to the coal below is important. But I believe Dr. King would have called us to talk about a New Appalachia.

We must begin the building of the New Appalachia while we still have mountaintops worth climbing. Read more.

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