Kentucky Farmer in front of his
strip-mined home, early 1970s
Photographer: Robert Gomel

Coming fresh from the Civil Rights Movement, we were interested in the uses of singing, music, and other cultural forms -- old and new --in sustaining peoples' organizing efforts.

And people did organize -- to fight poverty; to challenge the coal industry for safer conditions; to fight strip mining which was ravaging the hillsides.

We found that singing together at community meetings, inviting dance callers and musicians to organizing events, making time for story tellers, songwriters, ballad singers at gatherings, all strengthened community spirit and determination.


Dancing at the Picket Site
Stearns, Kentucky, 1978
Photographer: Karen Kasmauski

Bessie Smith Gayheart & Madge
Ashley stop coal trucks, 1960s
Photographer: Phil Primack

Bringing talented, often older, persons together with younger singers and musicians, songwriters, poets, photographers has been one of Highlander's most important educational roles. During the 1970s, 1980s and early '90s, we organized many cultural workshops for activists from the coalfields.

Appalachia : Page 3 of 4

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