WV Can’t Wait will honor Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) and Jean Evansmore as two of the state’s 40 Hometown Heroes on Tuesday.
The award, which comes with $2,000, will be presented at 1:30 p.m. at the historic Oak Hill School in Oak Hill.
Each of the 40 hometown heroes was selected by a committee of volunteer leaders from across the state, from a pool of more than 115 nominations, according to a press release from the left-leaning organization.
The committee used three criteria to select each Hero: the lives they have changed in their communities, the courage they have shown in standing up to the rich and powerful, and the willingness to be led by people who are normally “kept apart, suppressed or criminalized”, according to the statement.
In addition to a $2,000 prize, heroes receive free ongoing leadership training and coaching, access to mental health and safety services, and a network of other like-minded people.
SALS’ mission is to provide education, research and networking for working class and disenfranchised people to promote understanding, empowerment and change.
The Southern Appalachian Labor School is committed to developing an understanding of the social, economic, and legal structures that affect the lives of people in Appalachia.
Evansmore, 80, is one of the presidents of the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign – an arm of a national activist civic organization founded by the Reverend William J. Barber II.
In remaking the poor people’s campaign that was started by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Barber cited poverty, racism and ecological destruction as culprits for the nation’s spiritual bankruptcy, according to a Washington Post profile in August. of 2021.
WV Can’t Wait volunteers designed the Hometown Hero Award program to be different from most grant-making projects. Instead of lengthy grant applications and restrictive budget reports, WV Can’t Wait accepted SMS/email nominations and offered “no obligation” rewards so groups could decide how best to use funds as needed.
WV Can’t Wait will honor Hometown Heroes with a barbecue lunch beginning March 5 at its state convention.
Other hometown heroes include: Kayla M. McCoy of Greenbrier County, Debra June Williby-Walker of Mercer County, Greenbrier Valley Pride of Greenbrier County, and Maury Johnson of Monroe County.
WV Can’t Wait is a statewide grassroots political organization committed to winning popular government in West Virginia.