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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format D


In Mingo County, VISTA workers joined a program run by a local high school teacher, Huey Perry.

Huey Perry: Mingo had a reputation of being one of the crookedest political counties in the whole United States. The local politicians controlled the welfare system, the board of education. The politicians were the economy. It was serfdom, it was a little kingdom and the people were the subjects. There was no democracy in Mingo County. What we attempted to do was to talk with the poor people up the creeks and the hollows and to organize them into what we called “community action groups”. To organize the people so that they could speak for themselves rather than being spoken for. We had all the kids that had health problems, they were running around in the front yard, playing in the creeks wearing a diaper. We really started a pre-school program. It was the first full-day pre-school program run by people who were in poverty. The program in Mingo County, that early program we developed, became the model for Head Start programs throughout the rest of the nation.

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