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West Virginia - Economic Justice in Hard Times: Then and Now

Rick Wilson, director of AFSC’s West Virginia Economic Justice Project

Rome is burning—
no time to fiddle

In the grip of the Great Depression, as 89 percent of Lincoln County residents struggled to survive on meager relief payments and 6,000 children in McDowell County could not go to school because they didn’t have clothing, West Virginia’s democratic governors resisted federal initiatives aimed at stimulating the economy.

In An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression, Jerry B. Thomas relates how Gov. Guy Kump spoke out against a national “spending orgy” as he withdrew rural road projects, reduced relief rolls and slashed payments for desperate families.

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