Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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Black Lung Widows' March
Kickoff Rally, Friday March 15, 2002

Linda Chapman, widow of miner and black lung victim Carson Chapman, talks to the media in Charleston on March 15, minutes before she and another widow from Inez, Kentucky begin a 400 mile walk to Washington, DC. They walk to demand change in the nation's black lung benefits laws.

Miners' widows face a cumbersome process when trying to procure their husbands black lung benefits. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan changed the black lung eligibility rules, making widows have to "prove" their husbands died of black lung disease, even though the husbands were receiving black lung benefits at the time of their death. Coal companies have a host of doctors and lawyers who impede widows in their struggle to gain their rightful benefits. A twist in the laws make it virtually impossible for widows to hire lawyers to represent them.


Linda dons her walking shoes.


Linda, a resident of Spencer, WV, and Phyllis Tipton (in red), from Inez, Kentucky, strike out of their long march to DC. Supporters are expected to join them all along the walk. They plan to arrive in DC on April 15 to deliver their message in person to Congress.


OVEC Board co-chair John Taylor joins in the first steps toward DC. John has represented hundreds of black lung victims in their mammoth struggle to get black lung benefits.


OVEC, the United Mine Workers of America and the National Black Lung Association are all sponsors of the walk.


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