I haven’t met Larry Gibson, but I feel as though I have based on how many of my co-workers and colleagues have been profoundly impacted by his unexpected passing this weekend. Larry Gibson was a true leader of the environmental movement — specifically his work around highlighting Bank of America as the #1 underwriter of the coal industry — and therefore being the #1 backer of mountaintop removal coal mining.
Larry grew up on Kayford Mountain, located in West Virginia — a place surrounded by 8,000 acres of mountaintop removal devastation. Larry was described as being
a highly likable and unique spirit — he was almost always seen donning a signature day-glo hat and t-shirt, speaking out about the grave impacts of MTR to his fellow Appalachian community members and organizers. Larry fearlessly stood up to giant corporations — informing them of the injustices they were waging against his very own.
Larry was someone who was committed to humanizing what some may consider a rather esoteric subject — mountaintop removal coal mining – and broke it down to a level that anyone could understand. He made it nearly impossible not to acknowledge the sad destruction that arose. Larry’s sincere passion fueled a lifetime of activism, as he constantly shared stories of those countless Appalachian residents affected by King Coal.
“Love ‘em or leave ‘em. Just don’t destroy ‘em” was Gibson’s sound bite quote about his beloved Appalachian mountains.
I so wish I had the chance to meet Larry Gibson personally — I haven’t had the chance to check out any footage of him until just today, when I saw the following clip. I think you’ll know what I mean when I say that a true hero has been lost.
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