Florence and Goliath, or,
Standing Up for What's Right
by Abe Mwaura
When the petite but powerful Florence Twu stood up at
the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) hearing in July and affirmed
that she would devote her life and her education to fighting the type of
injustice she was witnessing in West Virginia, the coal execs must have
been shivering in their boots. She spoke with confidence and passion
about her childhood home in West Virginia, and with strength and
fearlessness about ending its destruction.
This summer, Florence spent six weeks interning with
OVEC in Huntington. So that our press releases would get to the right
people, Florence worked on updating our comprehensive media list. Once
or twice in that process, she talked with editors of coalfield
newspapers who said they wouldnt pay attention to anything sent from
OVEC. Florence also created a student organizing manual for mountaintop
removal, using much of her own experience in activism at Harvard
University, working around HIV/AIDS issues. She saw many parallels
between her own activism at Harvard and the struggle against MTR here in
West Virginia. All this amidst taking her parents to Kayford Mountain
and easily reading almost a dozen books in those six weeks she spent
Our nations unjust distribution of wealth utterly
angers Florence. She saw and pointed out many absurdities in the type of
corporate philosophy that puts profit before people.
As an example of one such corporate absurdity, she noted
how it is possible that anywhere in the world, even the most remote and
desolate places, one is always able to find a bottle of Coke, yet access
to medication can be a hopeless quest.
OVEC greatly appreciated Florences presence, and
everyone who saw her in action at the EIS hearing got to see why. We
should all be encouraged and inspired by her passion, courage and hope.
Thanks so much for interning with OVEC, Florence!