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The March Toward Justice Begins

This week more than 600 concerned citizens will participate in the largest mass mobilization against mountaintop removal mining that this country has ever seen, Appalachia Rising: The March on Blair Mountain.

Led by many of our dedicated friends and partners in Appalachia, hundreds of people from all across the country, from all stripes and walks of life and backgrounds -- students, scholars, artists, scientists, labor leaders, union workers, historians, environmentalists, and concerned citizens -- will walk shoulder to shoulder in a peaceful and permitted demonstration for 50 miles across the rugged Appalachian Mountain terrain, all joined by this conviction: The people of Appalachia deserve protection of the law and a prosperous and just future that does not include the devastation and destruction of mountaintop removal mining. Mountaintop removal mining must end, and justice must be brought to the people and communities of this region.

This March on Blair Mountain, which begins on Sunday, June 5 and concludes with a huge rally and event on Saturday, June 12, commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain, when 10,000 coal miners joined together and walked the same route in a mass uprising to establish their right to decent working conditions. The history of this mountain is captured in this beautifully made video.

Blair Mountain is the proposed site of a mountaintop removal mining project. Losing this mountain means losing an important piece of American history, in addition to threatening the communities that sit below it with harms that mark all mountaintop removal mining sites: contaminated water that sickens and even can kill people, harmful coal dust filling the air, threat of floods -- all of which are strong enough impacts to eliminate the very existence of a community.

In 1921, the Battle on Blair Mountain was a struggle for justice for Appalachian workers. Today, the struggle reaches far beyond the workers: It is a struggle for justice for the people and communities of Appalachia, as they fight for their survival and health in the face of mountaintop removal mining.

This mission of the March on Blair Mountain begins with one saving one historic mountain, Blair Mountain, from the ravishes of mountaintop removal mining, but it doesn't end there. All mountains must be saved, all waters must be protected, and all the people in Appalachia deserve the basic right to live a healthy existence with safe water and safe air.

If you agree, this week is the time to show your support and solidarity with those in Appalachia who are trying to protect their homeland and communities. Please watch the March's website for daily updates, photos, and video and share them with your friends and networks. I'll keep you updated and share highlights on this blog as well.

If you can't be in West Virginia next week, you can still make a difference: Join the Virtual March and take a solidarity action each day of the March to end mountaintop removal mining. The Virtual March will guide you through an easy and simple phone call, petition signature, or email letter to our nation's leaders each day of the March.

One of the most important things we can do right now is speak out against mountaintop removal mining and let our nation's leaders hear our voices loud and clear. The coal industry has a tremendously powerful lobby in Washington and in the capitals of coal states -- we must meet those special interest funds with so strong a public outcry that our pleas cannot be denied, no matter how much money goes into the pockets of some politicians.