Silas House, the author and environmentalist who grew up in Laurel County, proudly proclaimed his heritage from the front steps of the state Capitol on Thursday.
“I am proud to say that I am a hillbilly,” House told a group of just under 1,000 environmentalist activists gathered in Frankfort for “I Love Mountains Day,” the annual protest against mountaintop removal coal mining.
But House reminded the crowd that to be a hillbilly, you have to have hills.
“We can’t have hillbillies without hills, and that is the main reason I’m here,” House said as the crowd cheered.
Standing before the state’s seat of power, House called on the crowd to “clean this house,” and urged those present to get involved in political campaigns to support candidates friendly to environmental concerns.
He said those concerned with the degradation of the Appalachian environment and streams have waited long enough on politicians “who are listening to corporations instead of their constituents” to do something.
Carl Shoupe, a former Marine and disabled miner from Looney Creek near Benham, a coal camp town, made his ties to coal clear.
“My grandfather and father were coal miners,” Shoupe told the crowd. “I was a coal miner. And I’m proud to tell you that my son is one of the best underground miners I know.”
But Shoupe said those who love the mountains and streams of Eastern Kentucky “must stop mountaintop removal – NOW!”
Read the full story in the print or e-edition of Friday's Glasgow Daily News.