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Community 2020 Forum

Appalachia: Bringing New Opportunities to Rural America

Background Agenda Speakers Transcript


The nation is enjoying unprecedented prosperity: record employment, the highest home ownership in history, and a stock market that is off the charts. But there are also places across the country - both urban and rural - that seem to be immune to the economic cycles of boom and bust, where poverty persists at record levels, and where jobs are still scarce.

This forum focused on one such place - rural Appalachia. Last year, the Census Bureau reported that despite a modest decline over the past five years, poverty in rural areas is higher than what it was twenty years ago. 8.3 million people, or one quarter of all those in poverty, live in rural areas. Many of the poorest counties in the U.S. are in rural areas - in such places as the Mississippi Delta, on our Native American reservations, in the colonias of Texas, as well as in Appalachia.

Perry County, Kentucky, where the film that was screened at this session is set, has a poverty rate of more than 30% - twice the national rate. There are places in Appalachia where it is as high as 50%. By documenting the plight of one Appalachian family, "American Hollow" draws attention to the millions of rural Americans who are struggling to achieve the American Dream - and to the work that we must do to bring jobs and prosperity to those still left behind.




Andrew Cuomo
Secretary, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV
United States Senator, West Virginia

Documentary Film

"American Hollow"

Introduced by

Rory Kennedy
Producer and Director


United States Senator, West Virginia

Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV has served the people of West Virginia for over 30 years. After coming to the community of Emmons in 1964 as a VISTA Volunteer, Rockefeller made the Mountain State his home and dedicated his life to building a better West Virginia

In 1996, he was elected to a two-year term in the West Virginia House of Delegates. He then served four years as Secretary of State, three years as President of West Virginia Wesleyan College, and eight years as Governor. In 1984, he was elected to the United States Senate, and was re-elected in 1990 and 1996.

In the Senate, Rockefeller has focused on jobs, health care, the needs of children and families, worker training, veterans� issues, and transportation. West Virginia�s national and international economic development have been a cornerstone of Rockefeller�s Senate agenda. He fought to bring more funding to West Virginia to enhance its research and technological base; sponsored trade adjustment assistance for workers who lose their jobs due to imports; and helped lead the battle to complete the Appalachian Corridor System.

Rockefeller has built a national reputation as a leader in the effort to strengthen families and to protect our children, and he served as Chairman of the National Commission on Children.

Producer and Director

"American Hollow"

Rory Kennedy is an award winning independent documentary filmmaker. She is the Founder and President of Moxie Films, Inc.,a documentary production company based in New York City.Moxie Films recently completed "American Hollow," to bebroadcast in 1999 as part of HBO�s American Undercover series. "American Hollow" was debuted at the Sundance Film Festival competition.

"American Hollow" tells the story of the Bowling Family of Saul, Kentucky. Rory was introduced to the Bowing family in 1996 and was immediately struck by the family�s struggle to survive in a disenfranchised and forgotten corner of American.

In addition to "American Hollow," Rory�s credits include "Different Moms" a one-hour documentary about mentally retarded mothers raising their children, which was aired on Lifetime Television in April 1999, and the award-winning "Fire in Our House," a documentary video and outreach



Content Archived: April 15, 2011

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