Photo montage (l to r) of Rachel Parsons, her mother Wendy Johnston and her grandfather Sid Moye.
This is the beginning of a post first published on July 21, 2012 at 6:59 p.m. It was last updated on August 1, 2012 at 4:49 p.m. to add the remainder of the interview and a link to my post about Rachel's own diary on the Mountain Mobilization.
Native West Virginian Rachel Parsons part of three generations fighting mtr
One of many West Virginia natives who supports the mobilization is writer Rachel Parsons (blog).
Parsons lives in Mercer County outside of Athens. There is no mining right where she lives, but there is a permit in her county for McComas, within 5 miles of where her grandparents, Sid and Dana Moye live. Her mother, Wendy Johnston, discovered the advertisement for the permit in 2009, while working at the Princeton Library. Johnston wrote Mountain Justice for help and she and Sid Moye went door-to-door to tell people in that area who had heard nothing about the permit. Parsons wrote me last night about the Mobilization to say that they are
going to try to help out if we can.Parson's grandfather has an eloquent essay about his opposition to Mountaintop removal up at Earth Justice's Mountain Heroes Project, as does Junior Walk, whom I wrote about yesterday. Parsons is one of the speakers tomorrow, along with her mother, at the Stop the Kaboom fundraiser for RAMPS in Hedgesville, WV. Her brothers Matthew and Billy Parsons--who play together as the Missing Parsons Report--will be performing.
How Parsons got involved in fighting MTR
I asked Parsons if she could remember what started her off on her current path as an activist. She answered,
Absolutely. Mom took me to Mountain Justice Camp for an evening because it was being held at the Appalachian South Folklife Center, which is right up the road from out house. I heard Judy Bonds speak on the issue, which I knew nothing about before hand, and met Larry Gibson for the first time as well. It was a very powerful experience and I knew after that evening that I needed to be involved.
Judy was a really powerful figure to me. There's a lot of talk about activists being out of state hippies, but that wasn't Judy. She lived with the effects of strip mining every day, and that she died of cancer before she could see this fight all the way through felt like a tragedy to me.Judy Bonds continues to inspire Parsons
I never got to know her very well but I always admired her. She was and is one of my heroes...
I think Judy believed that everyone who could and would fight had their own gifts to bring to the table. She wanted everyone to speak up, even when we're afraid. So even though Judy was a speaker and I'm a writer, I feel I'm doing what she would have wanted me to do by writing about the issues she felt so strongly about. I do speak on occasion, when I'm asked, because I want to help the movement in any way I can. It's just that primarily I want to spread the word through my writing.