Theme: Organizing – People

Dick Burr

Contributed by John E. Davis and Jack Beckford. Dick Burr grew up in Lake Wales, Fla. After graduating from high school in 1967, he spent four years as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, majoring in philosophy. His years at Vanderbilt included such activities as an early morning arrest for “harassing a truck driver” after following …

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Bill Dow in Smithville ,Tenn., 1970

Bill Dow

Bill Dow co-founded the Student Health Coalition while in medical school at Vanderbilt University, in 1969. His larger-than-life role in the SHC origin story and beyond warrants special telling, which we attempt in the essay that follows. Contributed by Margaret Ecker, compiled in collaboration with friends  Bill Dow energized a generation of student activists and …

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Odes and Shelby McKamey

Odes and Shelby McKamey were among the most cherished local hosts for members of the SHC when the health fair arrived in their remote mountain community of Stoney Fork, Tenn. Later, after the Stoney Fork Clinic was established, the McKameys also housed and hosted visiting doctors who came to the clinic, including Tom John. Odes …

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John Kennedy

The summer before his final year at the Vanderbilt Law School and during the summer and fall after his graduation, John Kennedy worked for the Student Health Coalition in 1971 and 1972. He provided assistance to former miners who were seeking black lung benefits and disability payments from federal and state agencies. He was based …

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Charles Schiff

While an engineering student at Vanderbilt University, Charles spent the summers of 1970 and 1971 with the Student Health Coalition. He was 18 years old when he joined the SHC, one of the Coalition’s youngest members. He served as a community worker in Clairfield, Tenn. where, in addition to providing support for the health fairs, …

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Charles “Boomer” Winfrey

After studying geology at the University of Tennessee and working as a geologist for one year, Boomer took a job as a community organizer with Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM). As he later described his role: “They needed somebody with geological training to go out and sample water and review mining plans and things and …

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Randy Hodges

Randy graduated Vanderbilt with a degree in civil engineering in 1975. Randy first worked with the SHC helping to construct the Petros Health Clinic in 1973. He served as SHC co-director from 1973-1974 and as a community worker in Jacksboro, Tenn. the summer of 1974.    In 1979 he helped found the Solar Greenhouse Employment Project, …

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Eula Hall

A self-described “Hillbilly Activist”, Eula Hall (Pike County, Ky., 29 October 1927 –  Craynor, Ky., 8 May 2021) was a former Appalachian Volunteer and the leader of the “Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization” which invited the Student Health Coalition to bring a health fair to Mud Creek, Ky. in the summer of 1971. This was …

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