A southeastern Kentucky man is trying to organize a coal rally that would line 17 miles of highway from the Knox-Bell county line to the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.
Joe Harris told the Middlesboro Daily News that he is hoping for 20,000 participants in the Hands of Coal event. He says miners, businesses and churches have all signed up to be part of the event on Aug. 11, and different groups are adopting sections of the highway.
“We have a lot of the highway adopted, but there’s still room for more,” said Harris. “We’ve got church buses and coal miners coming from Pike, Knox, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Bell and Harlan counties. We’ll be lining up on the south side of the highway and if it fills up we’ll just line up on the north side also.”
Harris said the plan is for people to line U.S. 25E, then join hands at 2:30 p.m., when a prayer will be said for coal miners, the coal industry and eastern Kentucky communities.
“Coal affects every aspect of our communities. Everybody needs to come out and show their support,” Harris said. “We have permission from the federal government to stand on the roadway near the tunnel and permission from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to stand on U.S. 25. We have the Kentucky Coal Association, Friends of Coal and Coal Mining Our Future joining with us in support of this event.”