Stanley Sturgill's press statement at the People's Climate March

KFTC member Stanley Sturgill was one of the speakers representing frontline communities who spoke today at a press conference kicking off the People's Climate March in New York City. Here is his statement:


Hello. My name is Stanley Sturgill. I’m a 69 year-old retired coal miner from Lynch in southeast Kentucky. I worked underground for 41 years and I have black lung disease. I’m actually having a hard time breathing just to get to this stage.


My wife and I love where we live at the foot of Black Mountain, the highest and one of the most beautiful mountains in the state.


I am marching today because I want to build a bright future for my family, for Appalachia, and for this world. I have a vision where my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren can have good jobs that support our families without doing damage to our water, air, land and climate.


But this future is uncertain. In eastern Kentucky we have been suffering the early effects of climate change for more than a hundred years. We have dug the coal that has generated the electricity that has powered this country. But we’ve paid in miles of destroyed streams, in our health, and in our declining economy, including thousands of jobs lost in recent months.


I am here because our political leadership has failed us. In Kentucky, they have allowed the coal companies to blow up our mountains, and destroy our rivers and streams. I am here to call on them and on our world leaders to hear that those of us at the frontlines of the crisis are at the forefront of change.


It’s not going to be an easy task, but we believe we can do this. We are already working to build a just economic transition. One good example is my neighbors in Benham, Kentucky. They are helping people insulate and tighten up their 100 year old coal camp homes, and save money, and create good jobs that can’t be outsourced.


We know that together we can build our bright future. I hope that’s why you’re here. I know that’s why I’m here. And as we lead the way, we demand that ALL of our leaders start looking beyond coal and start representing the people that elected them to office and not corporations that they’ve allowed to own them.


Join us now and never forget: We are our own best hope for change.

Watch live what's happening in New York HERE.