Review Essay: The Appalachian Volunteers in Perspective
John F. Kennedy to West Virginia, introducing him to the poverty of the central Appalachian coalfields as he waged a successful battle against Hubert Humphrey in the Democratic primary. Kennedy's confrontation with West Virginia's poverty led to several new federal programs, including the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the War on Poverty launched by President Lyndon Johnson through the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). The Community Action Program of OEO was the most dramatic innovation among these efforts and the most controversial. Among its projects to draw young people to public service and foster "maximum feasible participation" of the poor was the Appalachian Volunteers (AVs). At our present moment of renewed interest in community organizing and President Obama's call to community service, a thoughtful assessment of the AV s' work could inform contemporary activists. The publication of the first book-length study of the AVs, Thomas Kiffmeyer's Reformers to Radicals, is both timely and long overdue.