The following press release is from Walk for Appalachia’s Furture, “a two-week event amplifying the Appalachian region’s fights for environmental justice and renewable energy concluded on Saturday, June 4 with a youth-led rally in Richmond, VA.” Great work!
Walk for Appalachia’s Future Completes Two-Week Series of Events
Daily events highlighted communities in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina
Richmond, VA– The Walk for Appalachia’s Future, a two-week event amplifying the Appalachian region’s fights for environmental justice and renewable energy concluded on Saturday, June 4 with a youth-led rally in Richmond, VA. Starting May 24, the Walk connected community members and allies to highlight environmental damages caused by the fossil fuel industry, the need to cancel the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the interconnected fights for justice occurring across the region.
From community meetings in Ireland, WV on May 24 which highlighted sedimentation from the Mountain Valley Pipeline, to a May 25 rally in Charleston, WV and a film screening of the WV-focused film Hard Road of Hope, walkers and event attendees learned about the impacts of extractive industries on the region. Walkers traveled to White Sulphur Springs on May 26, learning about the candy darter fish, then to Summers and Monroe Counties, WV on May 27 to hear from directly impacted communities within the beautiful region at risk from the MVP.
May 28 brought the events to Virginia, with the annual Hands Across the Appalachian Trail event, where walkers descended from Peters Mountain to a welcoming crowd and live music in Pearisburg, VA. May 29 brought the events to Newport, VA where an In Memoriam event was held, honoring friends and allies from the MVP fight. May 30’s events included a powerful tour of the Gainsboro neighborhood, led by Roanoke historian Jordan Bell, followed by a prayer circle at the Roanoke City Jail. Traveling to Chapel Hill, NC, the Walk took part in a June 1 rally highlighting MVP’s proposed Southgate extension and other issues impacting the region, including coal ash and biomass.
The Walk’s final stops included two days in Richmond, VA, where on Friday, June 3 a rally started at the Pipeline Overlook and featured speakers including Th!rd Act Founder Bill McKibben (appearing virtually); Professor of Environmental Sociology and Environmental Justice, Travis Williams; Artist, poet and environmental advocate Mara Eve Robbins; and University of Richmond professor and environmental justice advocate Dr. Mary Finley-Brook.
The Walk for Appalachia’s final event on June 4 was a welcoming, inspiring youth-led rally organized by local eighth grader Callie Coffey which drew over 65 attendees, and featured art-making and speakers at the Capitol Grounds in downtown Richmond. Organizer Coffey shared: “Every part of the climate crisis is an injustice. Climate change affects people of color, Indigenous people, queer people, women, people in poor counties first and worst – and those are the people who did the least to create it…” Rallying the crowd to look at, and improve current societal systems, Coffey exemplified the spirit of community connection and advocacy of the Walk for Appalachia’s Future.
Images and video from each day of the Walk may be found here.
The Walk for Appalachia’s Future was organized by environmental justice workers from West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and beyond, and members of seasoned organizations such as 7 Directions of Service, POWHR, Beyond Extreme Energy, NC Alliance to Protect the People and the Places We Live, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Th!rd Act, & others.