Remembering Larry Gibson
In Charleston, West Virginia, friends, family, and fellow activists gathered to celebrate the life of the late Larry Gibson. Larry, who began his fight against mountaintop removal nearly three decades ago, initially set out to protect what remained of his ancestral homeland on Kayford Mountain, now an island surrounded by mountaintop removal’s devastation.
Larry, founder of Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, took his message all over Appalachia, creating sparks of resistance to extractive industries everywhere he went.Larry shares time with WVU SSC members at Kayford.
On Oct 14, people came from near and far to share their memories of Larry. In addition to his family, notable speakers included WV Sierra Club’s Bill DePaulo, Environmental Justice organizer Bill Price, and Kate Long, who lead those gathered in “Who’s Going to Watch the Home Place,” one of her songs she taught us at SierraFest 2011.
Near the end, board members from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation came with a clear message: our work, Larry’s work, is not done. The Foundation is working on Kayford Mountain to juxtapose the solution with the problem: sustainable community development in the form of solar panels beside the devastation of mountaintop removal.
There was truth in former Congressman and Secretary of State Ken Hechler’s speech at the memorial: “Larry Gibson will live forever in our hearts. Larry expected us to stand up for the same principles he fought for. We promise you, Larry, we will never give up — never, never give up.”
Among his copious tears, Chapter Chair Jim Sconyers had two thoughts: “One, I wept for the loss of one of the most courageous and inspiring leaders the West Virginia environmental movement ever had. And two, the fight must go on, and it’s up to us. It’s a fight we must, and will, win. Mountaintop Removal is an abomination that will be stopped.”
Larry’s family has requested that those wishing to express condolences make donations to the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation. To view more stories and photos of Larry, or to donate to his Foundation, please go to: mountainkeeper.blogspot.com