|Keynote speaker, author Silas House addresses the crowd|
Father of two and popular author Silas House served as keynote speaker for the event. “I’m proud to say that I’m a hillbilly because I believe that word is about empowerment and not shame,” shared House in his authentic Eastern Kentucky accent, “…we can’t have hillbillies without hills.” Speaking in the richly layered meanings of a Southern novelist, House noted that Appalachia is a microcosm of our nation that struggles with a crisis of conscience. “I for one am ready for new power,” he said earnestly, and he rallied the crowd to its crescendo with his calls, “let’s clean this house!” In addition to his novels and plays, House co-authored with Jason Howard a book of testimonies of mountaintop removal mining in 2011 called Something’s Rising. He currently serves as National Endowment for the Humanities Chair for Appalachian Studies at Berea College.
12-year-old KFTC essay winner Ella Corder of Somerset read to the crowd what she’d written about MTR in her own words. Corder pointed out that Kentucky has lost more mountains to MTR than any Appalachian state. And she inspired students young and old, “Now we need to make a stand for our mountains.”
University of Kentucky law student Will Emmons attended the I Love Mountains rally because he’s concerned about the social justice issues like health. “It’s just ridiculous to me that in the 21st century we have this region where we can’t provide every child a clean glass of water.” UK environmental science student Taylor Howlett was encouraged by the enthusiastically large turnout, yet realistic about the difficult challenges ahead. “It’s frustrating, but we just have to keep on working, because the alternative is too bad to imagine.”
…more encouraging words for fellow Kentuckians from beloved author Silas House