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To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice (Working Class in American History) (Paperback)

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Launched in 1964, the War on Poverty quickly took aim at the coalfields of southern Appalachia. There, the federal government found unexpected allies among working-class white women devoted to a local tradition of citizen caregiving and seasoned by decades of activism and community service. Jessica Wilkerson tells their stories within the larger drama of efforts to enact change in the 1960s and 1970s. She shows white Appalachian women acting as leaders and soldiers in a grassroots war on poverty--shaping and sustaining programs, engaging in ideological debates, offering fresh visions of democratic participation, and facing personal political struggles. Their insistence that caregiving was valuable labor clashed with entrenched attitudes and rising criticisms of welfare. Their persistence, meanwhile, brought them into unlikely coalitions with black women, disabled miners, and others to fight for causes that ranged from poor people's rights to community health to unionization. Inspiring yet sobering, To Live Here, You Have to Fight reveals Appalachian women as the indomitable caregivers of a region--and overlooked actors in the movements that defined their time.

About the Author

Jessica Wilkerson is an assistant professor of history and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi.

Praise For…

"Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the War on Poverty in Appalachia, this book documents the central role of working class women in Appalachian resistance movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Drawing on a tradition of family care giving and community support, mountain women brought to their activism an awareness of the profound connection between environmental, health, and economic justice that redefined class and gender issues in America and offered an alternative vision for their communities and our capitalist nation. Based upon extensive oral history research, To Live Here, You Have to Fight challenges many of our contemporary assumptions about Appalachia and is an important book for our time."--Ronald D Eller, author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945

"A bold new examination of women's struggles in Appalachia rests on a concept that is both simple and profound: the caregiver as activist. . . . Thanks to Wilkerson's efforts, histories of women's bravery and persistence are here brought to life and preserved to inspire new generations." --Women's Review of Books
"A crucial piece of the history of social justice in America, placing the true history of Appalachian women's radical, blood-red roots on vibrant display." --Kim Kelly, Pacific Standard

Product Details
ISBN: 9780252083907
ISBN-10: 0252083903
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication Date: December 30th, 2018
Pages: 280
Language: English
Series: Working Class in American History