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Reflections on the Hard History of Appalachia

appalachian labor school

 

Appalachia – a Hard History
A West Virginia volunteer reflects on the harsh realities of life in the Appalachian Mountains.

Named after a native Indian tribe that was mistaken then as you are mistaken now.  Known for everything from your moon shining to your clan fending and serving babies Mountain Dew.

history of Appalachia

Volunteers learn about the struggles and hopes of Appalachian people.

Called everything from “hillbilly” to “redneck;” accused you of being backward “they don’t know you fueled the industrial age”.  Endowed with natural resources but struggle with poverty that’s what they say about you.  “They judge you like they judge books without covers.” “They never read a page from your book”.  Like Rumplestiltskin they’ve spun your coal to goal and tried to steal your soul, like the phoenix you rise, rise from the ashes of your predecessors, coal mines and the black dust.  Like fine linen on fresh-washed children you are the quintessential hope for tomorrow, I share your sorrow, feel your pain, smile at your jog.  They say your voice is a cacophony but to me it is a sweet symphony, a sweet symphony that says “we will not go into the night, we will not vanish without a fight.  I say to you what Sam Cooke said to them:

“I was born by the river in a little tent, oh and just like the river I been running ever since, its been a long, a long time coming, but I know change gone come, oh yes it will.”

– Kahdijah Muhammad

 

Colors of the Wind by Alan Irwin Menken

You think you own whatever land you land on
The earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew

 

 

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