Larry Gibson

The Larry Gibson Legacy Project

Larry Gibson (1946-2012) inspired thousands of people to fight against the abusive mining practice of mountaintop removal. This website is dedicated to Larry and the many friends along with family members who work for justice in their communities.

Courage, Commitment, Truth, Honor, Perseverance

Larry and others have inspired and taught many people to stand up for justice. This may be the most valuable legacy of the ongoing anti-mountaintop removal campaign.

The movement to end Mountaintop Removal

Larry talks about his home on Kayford Mountain. Filmed by YERT

Mountain Heroes was a project of Earth Justice. Larry inspired many to be advocacy mountain heroes

An example of the influence Larry had on young people. This group of “Poverty Scholars” took a tour of Kayford.

The Larry Gibson Project

The biography project of Christians for the Mountains has grown. Here’s the update:


The Larry Gibson Projects Team

Christians for the Mountains and Project Director and Coordinator: Allen Johnson                                                                                                     Lead Researcher and Writer: Marybeth Lorbiecki                                                                                 CoWriter: John Murdock                                                                                                                               Supportive Researcher and Expert Reader: Janet Keating                                                                   Spiritual and Streams Advocate: Reverend Owen Owens                                                                   Financial Coordinator: Bob Marshall                                                                                                      Coalition Builders for Larry Gibson Legacy Projects: Susan Thompson & Elise Keaton                                   Supportive Grants Partner: One Foundation                                                                                                                          

Larry Gibson Project: Aims & Dreams

1) Research Larry’s life and biography and relationship to the WV and larger Appalachian Movement to Stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining –Completed

  • conducted over 100 interviews with people who knew well or worked with Larry
  • fact checked elements shared in interviews and use detective skills to uncover the timeline of Larry’s actions over time
  • surveyed the articles, movies, videos on Larry

2) Write a narrative that presents the research on Larry and the WV Movement with cited sources in footnotes for other’s research. A narrative draft has been completed of over 1,300 pages, which will bebound in 2 draft volumes to be donated to different research archives (in process). It will be donated to these institutes and organizations:

  • WV University Archives
  • WV University Center for Resilient Communities
  • Berea College Archives where some Larry Gibson materials have been donated
  • Marshall University Archives
  • Shepherdstown University Appalachian Studies Department
  • Appalachian State University
  • Highlander Research and Education Center
  • West Virginia Community Development HUB


3) Host a gathering at Kayford Mountain on July 2 to accomplish the following:

  • to thank those who shared their stories in the interviews and assisted in research
  • to honor and officially thank the Stanley Heirs Foundation for saving a portion of Kayford Mountain and being a host site for the WV Movement
  • to celebrate and honor the lives of the leaders, activists, and citizens of the WV Movement who have passed on
  • to celebrate and honor the varied achievements of the WV Movement
  • to gather people together to hear what others are doing so they can be supported in their ongoing and new efforts, and how they might like to work together or not



4) Establish the Larry Gibson Project website for updates and resources:   Established.


5) Archive the research interviews with the WV University Archives of those who provide permissions. This is in process.

6) Write two book proposals from the research narrative and scholarship; write and seek publication for these books:

  • a long book on the WV Movement: Appalachian Uprising: Larry Gibson & Friends Take on King Coal, Dirty Politics & Climate Change
  • a shorter, personal book with photos on Larry Gibson: The Biggest Mountain: Larry Gibson’s Life and Legacy

7) Support the Long-Term Protection of the cabin and Stanley Heirs lands  In process.

8) Gather a coalition of partner organizations to restore the ruined acres and streams of Kayford Mountain and ideally bring back the clean streams, diverse forests and wildlife, the foraging of wild plants, small sustainable farms and orchards, and establish wind and solar energies to make these efforts sustainable and as models for others in the WV. The Larry Gibson Education Center and Native Plant Nursery could be included in this restoration to promote the education of others of a new path forward.

9) Develop a WV/Appalachian Superheroes Comic Book Series & Other Media:

Since Larry loved comic books and could never read the biographies we are developing. Yet his story should get out to kids like him. A WVseries could be done with the help of young adult writers and comic book artists. We think the heroes series could begin with Larry Gibson, Judy Bonds, Chuck Nelson, Ken Hechler and some of the Affliachian activists who have passed. There is also talk of articles, street play, musical, documentary film, etc.

These are ambitious dreams, but progress has been made on all—one step at a time.  

                      Let us know how you would like to get involved and on which projects. You are Somebody!

Leadership of the Larry Gibson Legacy Project

Owen Owens
Marybeth Lorbiecki
Allen Johnson

Owen Owens is a retired American Baptist social justice executive. He is co-Chair of the National Religious Partnership on the Environment. In 2012, Larry Gibson asked Owen to write his biography. Owen promised Larry to see the project through, and is keeping his promise.

Marybeth Lorbiecki is the key researcher and writer of the Larry Gibson Biography. Her extensive research has included long interviews with about 100 people, exhaustive reading publications and viewing films. She has a passion for justice, as evidenced in her previous books. Her website is marybethlorbiecki. com

Allen Johnson is co-founder of Christians For The Mountains. Larry Gibson approached Allen in 2012 about writing his biography that it would continue to inspire people to work for justice including the ending of Mountaintop Removal. Allen works closely with the team to move this project forward.