What’s Happening in West Virginia?

*gratitude the UU College of Social Justice for their learning resources.

Facilitator Preparation:

In this unit, the group will learn about the current state of West  Virginia through the popular show Parts Unknown. Participants will examine stereotypes of West Virginia in light of the stories they watch in the video. The objective is to begin to dismantle existing stereotypes and teach participants that local West Virginians are the experts of their own progress. 

Chalice Lighting – 

Still There is Light By Nadine McSpadden 

During our darkest moments, still, there is light. 

When facing our biggest challenges, still, there is light. 

When all we can do is put one foot in front of the other, still, there is light. 

When we can’t see the way out, still, there is light. 

When all we can do to help is hold someone’s hand as they cry, still, there is light. 

We are the light— for ourselves and for one another. 

Always, there is light.

Introduction Discussion:

▪ What comes to mind when you think of West Virginia and West Virginians? Make a list of the  words/ statements mentioned 

Examples: Hillbillies, uneducated, white, coal mining, backwards, inbred families, strong  southern accents, low-income/ poor, helpless, no local culture or art, conservative 

▪ How did you hear about these statements?  

Video:

Parts Unknown: West Virginia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00CvljfV3ug [stop 14:00 minutes]

▪ What are your observations on West Virginia so far? How do they relate to the list of  stereotypes just mentioned? 

Continue video at 16:22 minutes to 26:24 minutes 

Continue video at 35:26 minutes to 43:12 minutes

▪ What additional observations related to our initial list do you have after watching Parts  Unknown? 

▪ Which qualities would you use to describe the people you saw in the video?  ▪ One of the men Anthony interviewed mentioned that he hoped Trump’s administration would  spark a “national dialogue”. Why do you think it’s important? How does this relate to our  journey to West Virginia?  

▪ For part of the week, we will be supporting a local organization that manages several  community service projects around southern West Virginia. We will spend the week working  alongside local residents. What are some ways we can learn from West Virginians?  

Closing Reading:

Where Do We Go From Here?,

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [1967, adapted]

All people are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the  living and the dead of all nations have contributed. Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives eternally “in the red”. We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women… In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother, [or sister]. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.