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"She wasn’t complaining that she couldn’t get the medicines she needed," Gibson says. "She was worried about her sons. She said, ‘If the coal jobs run out, they won’t have jobs, and they won’t be able to support their children.’
"This is not a Democrat or a Republican thing," he says. "It’s a moral thing."
But there is little doubt that United for Coal is also a political event. Posts on every state’s page are heavy with anti-Obama sentiment.
Gibson says state and federal governments have failed the coalfields, and he blames politicians at every level for the failure to bring economic diversity to the region.
"They have ignored us," he says. "And we are going to be a voice. Even if we have to take everyone in this lineup to Washington, we are going to be a voice."
United for Coal, he says, has the potential to become a national movement.
"If the politicians want us to stay off their backs, then they better get off their hind ends and do something," Gibson says. "It’s not going to end with a bunch of people standing on the side of the road."
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