Fifty Years of Night

Jean Ritchie’s 'Black Waters'
 became theme for a movement

Jean Ritchie
Jean Ritchie

Standing in front of bulldozers or coal trucks, their arms linked, strip-mining protesters in Knott County decades ago sang together to keep up their nerve. A favorite song was Black Waters by folk musician Jean Ritchie, a native of Viper just across the Perry County line. See the full video below.

An excerpt:

In the rising of the springtime we planted our corn.In the ending of the springtime we buried a son.In the summer come a nice man saying “Everything’s fine,my employer just requires a way to his mine.”Then they threw down the mountain and covered my corn.And the grave on the hillside’s a mile deeper down.And the man stands and talks with his hat in his handas the poisonous water spreads over my land.Sad scenes of destruction on every hand.Black waters, black waters, run down through the land.

John Cheves

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