ATI joins our friends in mourning the loss of coalfield champion, Goldman Environmental Prize Winner and Marfork, West Virginia’s own Judy Bonds to cancer yesterday. As Jeff Biggers has written in his tribute to Judy on Huffington Post, “She was a tireless, funny, and inspiring orator, and a savvy and brilliant community organizer. She was fearless in the face of threats.” Judy’s advocacy as an Appalachian, a mother and a grandmother, through Coal River Mountain Watch and other ally organizations inspired countless of organizers and activists, young and old, to join the fight against injustice afflicting her community and others like it throughout the region.
Her friend and colleague Vernon Haltom wrote “Judy will be missed by all in this movement, as an icon, a leader, an inspiration, and a friend. No words can ever express what she has meant, and what she will always mean. We will tell stories about her, around fires, in meeting rooms, and any place where people are gathered in the name of justice and love for our fellow human beings. When we prevail, as we must, we will remember Judy as one of the great heroes of our movement. We will always remember her for her passion, conviction, tenacity, and courage, as well as her love of family and friends and her compassion for her fellow human beings. While we grieve, let’s remember what she said, “Fight harder.”
It is fitting to remember Judy—feisty, fiery and committed—in her own words: “I want you to notice nature, how geese are in flight and they form a V in a leadership role…The lead goose, when he gets tired of flapping his wings He drops to the back and the next goose comes up front…without stopping, without fussing, without whining He becomes that next leader, he or she, that’s what we have to do.”
That’s what we have to do.