Interview SummaryJoe T. Begley, a grocer, was raised in Floyd County, Kentucky near Prestonsburg. He attended high school but did not graduate. After working for a gas company and at several odd jobs, he continued his education in vocational school. Begley explains that he emphasized the importance of education to his own children, and all four attended college.
Begley and his wife lived in West Virginia until the death of his father-in-law in 1966. They returned to Blackey, Kentucky to run the family general store. Begley soon became involved with the Appalachian Volunteers (AVs) and other community activities including strip mining protests. He explains that his business became a center for political discussion and an informal clearinghouse for information about how to get everything from legal help to medical services. His activities gave him the opportunity to meet many activists including members of the Black Panthers, various Native American tribes, as well as philosophers and scholars like Miles Horton. Begley describes his involvement in stopping the construction of a dam along the north fork of the Kentucky River, and his participation in strip mining protests through the Citizen's League to Protect Surface Rights.
Begley feels that the best work of the Appalachian Volunteers was educating people about their legal rights, and helping them to use the legal system. He recalls going to Washington for committee meetings and visiting Jimmy Carter to testify about local problems. Begley describes the results of the changes brought by the social welfare programs, which began during the War on Poverty. Even at age 72 he was still very concerned about political corruption and the powerlessness of people in the mountains.
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Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Begley, Joe T. Interview by Margaret Brown. 04 Jun. 1991. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Begley, J.T. (1991, June 04). Interview by M. Brown. Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Begley, Joe T., interview by Margaret Brown. June 04, 1991, Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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