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Excerpt: Crusading for black lung reform

"Buff and Wells were great entertainers.  I was shocked at what Buff would do.  He would thunder out, 'Y'all got black lung and y'all gonna die!'
    "It was an interesting act to try to follow.  Wells was the one who had gotten the dry inflated lung tissue from Dr. Lorin Kerr and he would crunch this stuff up and let it fall to the floor and say, 'That is what is happening to your brothers' lungs.'
   "Buff would come with an oxygen tank and mask and a white hat and black hat.  He would tell the miners about the legislators, 'They wear their black hat when they talk to coal operators.'  He would wear the oxygen tank and oxygen mask and roar this when talking to miners, 'This is what you will end up wearing.' That was quite an experience.
   "In November 1968 the mine at Mannington blew up.  This focused the whole country on the mine issue.  It was obvious they needed laws to address safety and health of the coal miners nationwide.  Legislation was needed for workers compensation to become more fair for the miners."

From an interview with Dr. Donald Rasmussen.

Source: ,Appalachia: Spirit Triumphant (2004).


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