Interview with Sue Ella Easterling Kobak, January 2, 1991

Project: Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Sue Easterling Kobak was born into a coal mining family and explains that she had rarely traveled outside of the county in which she was born when she was accepted into Morehead State University on a scholarship. She states that she was unhappy with college until she discovered the Appalachian Volunteers (AVs). She describes working on weekend projects and summer programs where she tutored children and got to know people in the community. She became an AV in Elliott County in 1966. In 1967 she became a field assistant in Dickinson County. She graduated from Morehead in 1968 and received a fellowship to study social work systems in the region. Kobak discusses organizing the Appalachian Free University, and she explains that she went on to earn a master's in education and a law degree.

Kobak concentrates heavily on the status of women within the Appalachian Volunteers. She recalls that women were often seen as less intimidating to the local communities in which the AVs worked. In Kobak's view though, the women would do a lot of the legwork to organize a community and then the men would take control and take the credit. Kobak states that she was frequently harassed by local political machines, both because she took a strong stance on a number of issues and because her mother was also involved in community organizing. She was called names and followed by unmarked cars at night. The home that she was living in was set on fire. She describes rumors spread in the communities that the AVs were communists.

Kobak also talks about Appalachian Volunteers' lack of success. She states that this can be attributed to their short time in the mountains, and the lack of leadership and training for the volunteers. Still though, she believes that her involvement in the Appalachian Volunteers allowed for tremendous personal growth. Kobak describes her life after the Appalachian Volunteers. She remembers the difficult time that she had in law school at the University of Kentucky where there was a lot of prejudice against people from the mountains. Currently, Kobak serves as a district attorney from Wyse County, Virginia where she believes that she can have a greater impact on social justice than as a community organizer.

Interview Accession

1991oh027_app299

Interviewee Name

Sue Ella Easterling Kobak

Interviewer Name

Margaret Brown

Interview Date

1991-01-02

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Kobak, Sue Ella Easterling Interview by Margaret Brown. 02 Jan. 1991. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Kobak, S.E. (1991, January 02). Interview by M. Brown. Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Kobak, Sue Ella Easterling, interview by Margaret Brown. January 02, 1991, Appalachia: War On Poverty Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7v416t0m56


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