Poster Title

Feminism in Appalachia: Origins and Evolution.

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

History

Minor

Political Science

Institution

Morehead State University

KY House District #

99

KY Senate District #

27

Department

History

Abstract

In the late twentieth century, modern feminism in Appalachia bloomed during the labor crisis created by the mechanization of the coal industry and the War on Poverty. Through organizations such as the “roving pickets” and local “welfare-rights” associations, women led social justice movements throughout the region that battled the political corruption of local county governments and the economic dominance of the coal industry. Poor black and white Appalachian women fought for a range of issues. These individuals were not just loyal wives of coal miners. Rather, they were activist caregivers of their families and communities. In 1975, for example, the Appalachian Women’s Rights Organization formed to fight for welfare and union rights. For the majority of these activists, the problems went beyond economics and labor and included racial and gender inequalities.

This broader gaze influenced how Appalachian feminism evolved. In the twenty-first century, women are more specifically focused on direct social issues related to sexism and gender oppression rather than redistribution of wealth. The 2016 Presidential Election sparked the revival of feminism in Appalachia and throughout the nation. Women are continuing the legacy of Appalachian feminists through the resistance of oppression and sexism. Appalachian women are still fighting against the social oppression found throughout the region. The women of the 1970s laid the foundation but women of the twenty-first century are building a national community that will support and further women’s issues and concerns in the future.

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Feminism in Appalachia: Origins and Evolution.

In the late twentieth century, modern feminism in Appalachia bloomed during the labor crisis created by the mechanization of the coal industry and the War on Poverty. Through organizations such as the “roving pickets” and local “welfare-rights” associations, women led social justice movements throughout the region that battled the political corruption of local county governments and the economic dominance of the coal industry. Poor black and white Appalachian women fought for a range of issues. These individuals were not just loyal wives of coal miners. Rather, they were activist caregivers of their families and communities. In 1975, for example, the Appalachian Women’s Rights Organization formed to fight for welfare and union rights. For the majority of these activists, the problems went beyond economics and labor and included racial and gender inequalities.

This broader gaze influenced how Appalachian feminism evolved. In the twenty-first century, women are more specifically focused on direct social issues related to sexism and gender oppression rather than redistribution of wealth. The 2016 Presidential Election sparked the revival of feminism in Appalachia and throughout the nation. Women are continuing the legacy of Appalachian feminists through the resistance of oppression and sexism. Appalachian women are still fighting against the social oppression found throughout the region. The women of the 1970s laid the foundation but women of the twenty-first century are building a national community that will support and further women’s issues and concerns in the future.