Posted by: NCC Poverty Initiative Director | January 11, 2011

Remembering Judy Bonds, Defender of God’s Mountains

These Mountains Are Sacred.

January 3, 2011, the eco-justice community lost a strong and faithful activist/organizer: Julia “Judy” Bonds. A self-proclaimed hillbilly, Judy was the executive director of the Coal River Mountain Watch, an organization focused on stopping mountain top removal mining. Despite the ecological destruction and the toxification of the air, soil, and water in her hometown Marfork Holler in Appalachia, Judy stayed there as long as she could. At age 58, she died of cancer. Here are some quotes from Judy:

“In Southern West Virginia we live in a war zone. Three and one-half million pounds of explosives are being used every day to blow up the mountains. Blasting our communities, blasting our homes, poisoning us, trying to intimidate us. I don’t mind being poor. I mind being blasted and poisoned. There ARE no jobs on a dead planet.”

When asked what caused her to get involved in resisting mountain top removal mining, Judy told this story:  “There were a series of fish kills. The thing that really sticks in my mind is a six-year-old child, my grandson, standing in a stream full of dead fish….In Marfork, there’s a huge earthen dam for coal waste…I was sitting out on the front porch with my grandson, and he told me he had picked out an escape route in case the dam failed. I knew in my heart there was really no escape. How do you tell a child that his life is a sacrifice for corporate greed? You can’t tell him that, you don’t tell him that, but of course he understands that now.”

One interviewer asked  Judy: “It’s been an uphill battle for you from day one. Most people don’t have the stamina to face the opposition you do every day. How you stay energized?”

Portrait of Judy Bonds

She responded, “I know it’s the right thing to do. And I’m deeply religious and think God plays a big part in my work. I also see the youth of America and try to picture every child standing in that stream full of dead fish like my grandson. I know that isn’t right… If you stop fighting against what you know is wrong, then shame on you! You may have to take a little break, but you can’t quit fighting. You can’t quit doing what’s right. Some days are harder than others, but we do have good days around here.”

For information about Judy’s January 15th memorial service in Beckley, WV, click here. See a tribute to Judy Bonds by co-founder of Christians for the Mountains Allen Johnson here. See a story on Judy Bonds from Sojourners from 2005 here.



  1. Just announced by EPA …

    EPA Halts Disposal of Mining Waste to Appalachian Waters at Proposed Spruce Mine /
    Agency cites irreversible damage to clean water, environment in the region

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: