Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Herb Meade, August 19, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:10 - Conditions in Mingo County, West Virginia

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Partial Transcript: Herb, you started out saying that for you meeting AVs was, uh, what did you call it?

Segment Synopsis: Herb Meade talks about the conditions in Mingo County in the 1960s concerning poverty and unemployment, how people were treated by the local government, and the hopelessness people felt about their situation. He talks about the vote buying that occurred in the region. He discusses the corruption in the AFDCU program.

Keywords: Aid to Families With Dependent Children - Unemployed (AFDCU); Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); Conditions; Control; Downtrodden; Harassment; Helpless; Hope; Political systems; Problems; Unemployment rates; Vote buying; Work programs

Subjects: Mingo County (W. Va.); Poverty--Appalachian Region; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:06:33 - Beginning his involvement with the Appalachian Volunteers

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Partial Transcript: How did you first--what was your first encounter with the AVs?

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses how he became involved with the Appalachian Volunteers over the issue of unfair treatment of AFDCU workers. He talks about how it felt to work with other people on issues he had been trying to change. He talks about his own employment and how an injury impacted his ability to work.

Keywords: Aid to Families With Dependent Children - Unemployed (AFDCU); Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); Challenging the system; Community Action Programs (CAP); Elections; Employment; Fights; Injuries; Meetings; Protesting; Unions; VISTA; Welfare

Subjects: Volunteers in Service to America

00:14:23 - Vote buying as a normal practice in West Virginia / challenging votes

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Partial Transcript: When y, you talked about your, you know, neighbors and relatives and, and friends when you were a kid...

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses how vote buying was considered normal in certain regions of West Virginia during the 1960s. He talks about when he first heard about challenging voter fraud. He talks about becoming community action chairman in his district and how they challenged the voter rolls.

Keywords: Challenging votes; Community action chairman; Laws; Normal; Vote buying

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Political corruption; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:19:32 - Facing harassment for challenging voter rolls

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Partial Transcript: What--you were the chairman for the whole district in community action?

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses how the Fair Elections Committee challenged voter rolls. He discusses their treatment by people at the local courthouse and whether they received any threats. He talks about absentee voting and corruption, and how it related to the AFDCU. He discusses whether the FEC had any hopes of affecting the next election.

Keywords: Absentee ballots; Absentee voting; Aid to Families With Dependent Children - Unemployed (AFDCU); Arrested; Coercion; Community action; Cooperation; Courthouses; Election primaries; Harassment; Hope; Kermit district (W. Va.); Outcomes; Progress; Threats; Tom Chafin

Subjects: Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:24:27 - Attempt to get assistance from the Justice Department in Washington D.C.

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Partial Transcript: Uh, do you recall anything about--in that spring that--attempts to get the Justice Department involved in, in helping the Fair Election Committee out?

Segment Synopsis: Meade talks about the Fair Elections Committee gathering evidence of corruption in the local elections to take to Washington D.C. to try to convince the Department of Justice to assist them. He talks about a meeting they had with Senator Byrd and the results of the trip.

Keywords: Absentee voting; Acting; Community action; Evidence; Fair Elections Committee (FEC); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Impersonating; Justice department; Meetings; Poverty programs; Senator Robert Byrd

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Mingo County (W. Va.); Political corruption; Voter registration--Corrupt practices; Washington (D.C.)

00:29:37 - Noah Floyd and elections fraud

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Partial Transcript: Well what was your reaction, and the other committee members, I guess it was approximately a little more than a year later...

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses the federal indictment of Noah Floyd for elections fraud. --There is a pause between 29:27 and 31:13-- He talks about the effect of the Fair Elections Committee on Noah Floyd's power. He discusses corruption in current politics.

Keywords: Ernest Ward; Federal elections fraud; Impact; Indictments; John Pat Fanning; Noah Floyd

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Political corruption; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:36:39 - Change in attitudes about vote buying

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Partial Transcript: But is there a--the indictments and, and this are going on, and Ken Heckler, being secretary of state...

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses the changes in attitudes concerning vote buying within the communities of West Virginia. He talks about how the Fair Elections Committee and community action impacted the region.

Keywords: Changes; Citizen movements; Fair Elections Committee (FEC); Grassroots movements; Rights; Vote buying; Watershed events

Subjects: Mingo County (W. Va.); Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:40:15 - Conflict between the EOC and the Appalachian Volunteers

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Partial Transcript: To, to change topics of wh--you know, well radically, but this is another thing that, you know I’m, I'm talking in some of the programs about the role of the, the outside agitators, the volunteer workers.

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses the relationship between the Appalachian Volunteers and the Economic Opportunity Council. He talks about both their positive effects and the disagreement over a local school board election.

Keywords: Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); Community Action Programs (CAP); Community action; Controversy; Economic Opportunity Council (EOC); Elections; Idealistic; Mingo County school board; Noah Floyd; School board members; Support; VISTA; Young people

Subjects: Mingo County (W. Va.); Volunteers in Service to America

00:47:53 - Beginnings of vote buying in West Virginia

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Partial Transcript: Well one person who lasted a long time was Johnny Owens, right?

Segment Synopsis: Meade talks about state road boss Johnny Owens. He talks about why the practice of vote buying may have come to seem normal in certain areas of West Virginia.

Keywords: "Lever Brothers"; Accepted; Businesses; Control; Johnny Owens; Land corporations; Normal; Vote buying; Way of life

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:52:45 - Land ownership in West Virginia

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Partial Transcript: When you were--when we first started, you were talking about people, uh, up Marrowbone living on company land, not having their own land.

Segment Synopsis: Meade discusses land ownership in West Virginia, how land and mineral rights were bought by companies, and the development of land corporations. He talks about what he hopes people in the future learn from him. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Guts"; Bravery; Company land; Great Depression; Land corporations; Land ownership; Mineral rights; Selling; Taxes; West Virginia