West Virginians show Cornellians a new world

Lee Adler never planned to take 11 students on a week-long trip to West Virginia.

In fact, the ILR lecturer who routinely teaches upper-level and graduate courses in employment law and public sector policy had no intentions of creating a new class at all.

All he really wanted was just a little travel money to fund his passion project – interviewing community organizers in Appalachia about the work that was done there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Adler, who worked as a civil rights and labor and criminal lawyer in West Virginia for nearly 20 years before arriving at ILR in the mid-1990s, saw the work being done by those volunteers and activists first-hand. As a young lawyer he helped the underrepresented, the working class and their unions, and widows and coal miners with black lung disease claims. He also won a pair of landmark discrimination cases involving national origin, equal pay and sex discrimination. This was also when he met a multitude of dedicated individuals, many of whom were working through VISTA, established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to fight the War on Poverty.

Read the full story on the ILR School website.