Larry Gibson was a true hero.
One of the most important things we can do to honor the incredible life Larry lived is keep fighting: continue fending off King Coal, protecting our air, our mountains, our water, our climate and our communities.
You can help by sharing one of these images below. Larry set a powerful example for us all to live up to, and it’s up to us to make sure that his message lives on and his struggle continues. We can do that by spreading the story of his life and what he stood for.
Click on an image to go to Facebook and share it. Or you can share this post using the buttons above.
Read more about Larry’s life and his impact on many countless activists, including RAN’s own Scott Parkin, in this post: “Remembering Appalachia’s Mountain Keeper, Larry Gibson.”
Larry was the founder of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, set up to train people from the mountain community to do what Larry did—find their voices, share their stories and grow the movement. To ensure Larry’s work lives on we are asking that you donate to Keeper of the Mountains today.
The first time I met Larry in person was at a breakfast the day before the Bank of America shareholder meeting back in May. I went into that meeting thinking I would get a quote from each of the coal-impacted community members we’d brought to the meeting for use on Facebook. As it happens I ended up sitting right next to Larry and the first thing we did was go around and say who we were, what we do, etc. When it was Larry’s turn to speak he spoke for much longer than everyone else—which I would later discover was just how he was: Once Larry got going, he really got going. And of course, what he said was incredibly inspiring, full of passion, full of conviction. I wrote down something he said and made a note to ask him afterwards if he was cool with me using that as a quote.
Then it was Q&A time and someone asked a colleague of mine what the likelihood of them getting kicked out of the meeting and/or not being allowed to speak was. Larry piped up almost immediately to let everyone know that he WAS going to be heard, period. He had come to talk, and goddammit the execs at BofA were going to listen. That’s when he said, “They tell us we’re collateral damage. Well I ain’t collateral damage. I’m somebody. My name is Larry Gibson.”
I immediately scratched out the quote I had from before and wrote that down instead. Then I put it on a photo I found on Flickr and we posted it on Facebook and it went on to get thousands of likes and shares—more than anything else we’ve posted on FB so far this year, if I’m not mistaken. Even more than finger monkeys, if you can believe that.
It is truly astounding how many people Larry reached and influenced. I contacted the person who took the photo, which I found on Flickr, and I used the Flickr messaging system to do it. I did not expect a response in time for the next morning. But within an hour of sending the message I immediately got a message back. Turns out the pic was taken by a school teacher in Ohio who had taken his class to Kayford Mountain, and was more than happy to let us use his photo. He said that he and his class were hugely inspired by Larry and it was his pleasure to do anything he could to help Larry out and spread Larry’s message.
RIP Larry. You’re already missed, but you’ll never be truly gone.