Author Jeff Biggers: West Virginia teachers are ‘real resistance’ at work

Author Jeff Biggers says the statewide teachers’ strike that shuttered schools across West Virginia for over a week shows that social activism is still alive and well.

“Let’s look at West Virginia —  and the teachers,” Biggers said. “To me, this was the real resistance at work,” Biggers told Hill.TV co-host Krystal Ball on "Rising."

In February, teachers across West Virginia staged a walkout amid escalating tensions over pay and health care. West Virginia lawmakers eventually relented and Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a bill raising teachers’ salaries by 5 percent. 

The deal brought to a close a teachers’ strike that closed K–12 classrooms across the state’s 55 counties for nine days.

It also sparked a larger national movement, with teachers in Oklahoma and Arizona staging similar walkouts. 

Biggers says the teachers’ strike in West Virginia points to a larger American tradition that was borne in the region.

“As these teachers in Appalachia show, we forget that first Declaration of Independence in 1772 came out of Appalachia,” the author said. “In fact, the anti-slavery movement came out of Appalachia — you had a more anti-slavery societies in Appalachia than you did in Philadelphia or Boston.”

Biggers says Appalachia isn’t the only region that has a history of progressive activism and pointed to Arizona as another example.

“Arizona was Trump even before Trump became Trump and, in fact, the resistance there reminds us Arizona came into the Union in 1912 as one of the most progressive states — a labor state,” Biggers said.

Biggers said he hopes Americans will reclaim the tradition in areas that are often overlooked.

“That’s what I’m trying to do with my book is to say, ‘Hey we need to reclaim this tradition — go to places we never talk about.' ”

Bigger’s new book, “Resistance” chronicles how America was founded on resistance and social activism.

— Tess Bonn