Standing Up for Racial Justice

Posted Jun 11, 2020, by Veronica Coptis

Photos from the protest in Washington, PA, on June 6, 2020. Taken by Kristen Locy

Photos from the protest in Washington, PA, on June 6, 2020. Taken by Kristen Locy

Over this past weekend, there were two actions to demand the end to police violence on black lives. One in Washington, PA with about 400 people in attendance and another in California, PA with about 150 people joining in. In recent years, coming together to demonstrate and to collectively create change has not been the norm, but it has been a critical part of our history. Taking our issues and demands to the streets in the past was the only way we were able to achieve more equality, better working conditions, and increased environmental protections.

In southwestern Pennsylvania and across Appalachia, joining together across race has been critical to leveraging enough power to create change. From the union battles against lawmen and private security to eliminate company ownership of towns, to marching together in the streets during the civil rights movements, black and white people across Washington and Greene Counties have come together to demand justice. Then as now, we need to push through the efforts of big business, the rich, and corrupt politicians to divide our communities so that they can maintain control. In the last two weeks, there were over 150 actions for black lives across Appalachia. The need to build power across race is critically needed, and will help us to prevent the rich from dividing our communities. 

Are you moved at this moment to take action or to get more involved? Are you wondering how you can be most effective? Have you been active in improving your community but want to learn more about how to include racial justice in your work? 

At CCJ, we are planning to host some online gatherings for people to collectively discuss their questions, get support, and learn how to take action. If you are interested, please fill out the form below so that we know more about what you need and how we can support you in your learning. 


  • Veronica Coptis

    Veronica Coptis joined the CCJ staff in March 2013 as a Community Organizer and is now serving as the Executive Director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex and currently lives in the eastern part of the county. Before joining the CCJ staff, Veronica served on the Board of Directors for CCJ and organized with Mountain Watershed Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughters. Read more about Veronica in a New Yorker Magazine profile at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/03/the-future-of-coal-country. Contact Veronica at veronica@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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