Interview with Jack Rivel, February 12, 1991
Project: Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project
Interview SummaryJack Rivel was born in New Jersey but came to Kentucky in the late 1950s to attend Union College. Rivel describes participating in volunteer activities in and around Barbourville including completing school and home repairs and working with local youth groups. In early 1963 Rivel took part in the first school winterization project sponsored by the Council of the Southern Mountains. He describes attending an organizational meeting at the Pine Mountain Settlement School that same month. It was at this meeting that the Appalachian Volunteers (AVs) were formed, and Rivel was elected the organization's first president.
In May of 1964, Rivel became the AVs first full-time employee. He explains that throughout the summer of 1964 he worked on school repair and enrichment projects, mainly in Clay County. He discusses recruiting trips to colleges like Harvard and Antioch in hopes of motivating others to enlist in the Appalachian Volunteers. Late that same summer, the Appalachian Volunteers received their first Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) grant enabling the group to continue completing school repairs and allowing the AVs to grow to fourteen full-time staff members.
Rivel describes the separation of the Appalachian Volunteers from their parent organization, the Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM), in 1965. He explains that the CSM "couldn't put up with us anymore." Rivel feels that the Council of the Southern Mountains failed to keep up with the needs of the people. He explains that the AVs soon moved to Bristol, Tennessee with the Council's blessing.
Rivel also discusses the Pike Count Sedition Hearings. He calls them a "media circus." The OEO cited this event as one of the reasons they cut funding for the Appalachian Volunteer program. Looking back, Rivel believes that the AVs were a resource for the people by providing information for the mountaineers that they could not obtain themselves. The communities would then act on this information to create change. Rivel believes some change did occur in the mountains, although not as much happened in the heavy coal mining areas where the power of the county elite continued to dominate.
Interview Keyword"book rooms" anti-poverty organizations Bert T. Combs Clay County Kentucky Community Action Agencies Dave Lawless Flem Messer. Floyd County Kentucky Gilbert Creek Co-op Harry Caudill Head Start Program Highlander Folk School issue organizing James Cawood Jink Ray John Fetterman Kenwood Leslie County Kentucky Mike Klein Milton Ogle Office of Economic Opportunity outpost schools Perley Ayer Prestonsburg Kentucky Robert Coles Stinking Creek Kentucky War On Poverty Whitley County Kentucky
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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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Rivel, Jack Interview by Thomas Kiffmeyer. 12 Feb. 1991. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Rivel, J. (1991, February 12). Interview by T. Kiffmeyer. Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Rivel, Jack, interview by Thomas Kiffmeyer. February 12, 1991, Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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