Remembering an Activist

WVThis post isn’t about jewelry. It’s about remembering the life of an ordinary citizen who helped change so very much. Most people have never heard of James “Jimmy” Weekley, of Blair, West Virginia, who died last week at the age of 74. But Mr. Weekley was the kind of activist we admire most.

Mr. Weekley was one of the lead plantiffs in the first major court case to challenge mountaintop removal mining. He was one of a small handful of dedicated citizens who put a lot on the line to try to take a stand against Big Mining in an effort to protect their community and the land. 

A 1998 story from the West Virginia Gazette sums things up nicely when it describes Mr. Weekley taking two coal mining executives on a tour of the area around his home.

At times, the group walked along the creek in areas Arch Coal plans to bury under a valley fill.

“Look around you, sir,” Weekley said. “Look at how beautiful it is.”

Just a few hundred feet up the hollow from Weekley’s house, his 84-year-old mother, Sylvia, sat on the porch of her own home. “This is her homeplace,” Weekley said. “I was born here.”

“When you come in here and do this, all I’m going to have left are memories,” Weekley said. “Money can’t buy my memories. Look at all the species of trees and plants that are going to be destroyed. Why? Why? Why?”

Gardner said, “The reason, Mr. Weekley, is that we have a resource that is valuable and that the market wants. That is coal.”

Rest in peace Mr. Weekley. You made a difference.