Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Authentic, Grassroots Americans"

While perusing the multimedia of Nat'l Geographic's "Mining the Summits" article, I came across this reflection from the author, John G. Mitchell:

The best treasure I came away with is my memory of the collective courage of the people I was privileged to meet in the little hollows and hamlets of southern West Virginia.

I emphasize the word "courage" because you need a lot of it to speak your mind in a state so openly enthralled—economically, politically, and socially—to the industrial giant known throughout much of Appalachia as King Coal.

Outside of Appalachia, in the city-slick precincts of Hollywood and Manhattan, there has long been forged a smug stereotypical view of these mountain-and-hollow folks as crackers and hillbillies.

Call them what you will.

I call them authentic, grassroots Americans, and they may well be the best and bravest, long-suffering, authentic Americans in the U.S.A.

I salute them. And I salute my friend and colleague, photographer Melissa Farlow, not only for introducing me to many of these brave West Virginians but also for turning the key that opened our door on this story in the first place.

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