Black Appalachia

A wood carving from a newspaper of Frederick Douglass. Photo: Library of Congress

A Historian’s Work to Tell the Largely Forgotten Stories of Frederick Douglass and Central Appalachia

Frederick Douglass is well known in history as a formerly enslaved person who became a prominent writer, activist and abolitionist. But his travels in Central Appalachia and the speeches he gave specifically around West Virginia are much less known. Community historian John Muller has been documenting Douglass’ life for more […]

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Black Appalachian Coalition Aims to Shift Narrative on Energy, Other Issues

Appalachia’s people of color have borne greater social and economic burdens, on average, than their White counterparts, but their stories are often left out of policy discussions about energy and other issues in the region.  A new coalition is now seeking to amplify those voices. The Black Appalachian Coalition is an initiative of […]

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Review: Book Details Overlooked Black Experience in Appalachian Coal Camps

William Turner’s “Harlan Renaissance” shows how Black Appalachians built sustaining communities in the midst of racism and discrimination. One of the oldest and most enduring myths about the Appalachian Mountains is that they are now and always have been overwhelmingly populated by white Scots-Irish. Dr. William H. Turner has written a […]

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How Black Poets and Writers Gave a Voice to ‘Affrilachia’

Appalachia, in the popular imagination, stubbornly remains poor and white. Open a dictionary and you’ll see Appalachian described as a “native or inhabitant of Appalachia, especially one of predominantly Scotch-Irish, English, or German ancestry.” Read J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” and you’ll enter a world that’s white, poor and uncultured, with […]

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Graphic: David Smith/100 Days in Appalachia

Commentary: Racial Disparities of COVID-19 Shed Light on the Disparities in West Virginia Journalism

In recent weeks, I’ve watched West Virginia make national headlines and receive praise for its seemingly efficient rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.  Just last week, NPR interviewed the head of the state’s task force overseeing the vaccine rollout here to glorify his accomplishments, placing the interview under the headline West […]

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