Saturday, February 12, 2011

Update from inside the Capitol: Dr. John Hennen

John Hennen is a West Virginian by birth, aged 59.  He is a professor of history at Morehead State University, and he is married to Sue Creasap, who is a professor of music at MSU.  He has been a supporting member of KFTC for many years and was invited by Jerry Hardt on the second writers' tour in 2005.  Until then, he had a working-class interest in coalfield life.

"Since I have lived in Kentucky, I have become more aware of the direct impact of the devastation unleashed on my students, their families, and their communities by what Erik Reece calls 'radical strip mining.'  As I've become more aware of the extent and the injustice of this practice, I've been lucky to establish closer contacts with committed activists from Eastern Kentucky coalfields who've been working to abolish this mining practice. 

So I'm here to stand in solidarity with my friends. Also from a personal standpoint, I try to impress upon my students that citizenship implies much more than voting on a regular or irregular basis.  It requires that we as citizens in a representative democracy need to hold those with power to account.  I think the record of the legislature in Kentucky and this governor and past governors has been one of failing to protect the health and well-being of Eastern Kentucky in particular and, by extension, the whole Commonwealth.  And I believe actions like this are necessary, completely justifiable, and are basically patriotic acts that we need to embrace and support as true citizens."


  1. Are you going to make the governor arrest you if he doesn't give in to your demands and agree to drop the lawsuit against the EPA?

  2. John,
    Your students are very fortunate to have a professor of your caliber. I know that first hand. Please know that you -- and all the fine folks with you -- have the full support of your friends here in West Virginia also fighting this disastrous mining practice.
    God bless,

  3. The pictures of your ravaged mountains break my heart. Ours up here in Vermont are a little different, but they are closely related; it's easy, and excruciating, to imagine such devastation in my beloved home. I bow to your integrity and courage and hope that it inspires more and more of us to stand up for our homes, our relations, our lives.