WNCA mourns the passing of Larry Gibson, ‘Keeper of the Mountains’

From the Huffington Post:

Mourning Keeper of the Mountains Larry Gibson, and the Appalachians He Defended

More than four years ago, decked out in his trademark yellow cap and shirt, Larry Gibson famously waited his turn at a political rally in Beckley, W. Va., and finally got the chance to ask then-presidential candidate Barack Obama whether he would defend the land and people of central Appalachia.

Few people in our country were so fearless in the face of political pressure, bankers, Big Coal backlash and even death threats; and fewer people had the inspiring impact of this determined mountaineer, who had spent the last two decades crisscrossing the country, leading protests and beseeching power brokers to defend his Appalachian mountains from reckless strip mining operations.

His message was simple and to the point: Love them or leave them, just don’t destroy them.

Today, working on his beloved Kayford Mountain homeplace — the symbolic sky island surrounded by nearly 8,000 acres of mountaintop removal devastation that has served as an important training ground for a generation of activists, educators and chroniclers — 66-year-old Larry Gibson reportedly died from a heart attack, as committed as ever as one of the most indefatigable, cherished and courageous spokespeople in the movement to abolish mountaintop removal mining.

And still waiting for Washington, D.C. to end to one of the most egregious human rights and environmental crimes in the nation.

And still waiting for an uprising in the hills of Appalachia, and the halls of Congress and the White House to join him on the frontlines of social justice.

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