Virginia Organizing: The Action is at the State Level

Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond
Joe Szakos


For decades, community organizations in West Virginia and the Appalachian sections of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia have struggled to determine the best level or "place" to push for economic and social justice and environmental reforms. Should they work exclusively in their home communities? Should they develop regional - geographically and economically based - alliances across state lines, or should they concentrate their efforts inside their own states, disregarding links that cut across government-imposed boundaries? Some groups have focused on their Appalachian identity and fashioned plans without worrying about political boundaries. Others have worked exclusively on local issues while hoping someone else would push for change at a higher level. A few have participated in national alliances. And some have chosen the vehicle of a statewide organization to pursue their dreams of a better world.