Strange Fruit: The Story of African Americans in Appalachia; Black History Month Begins

The seldom-told story of African Americans in Appalachia has been on our minds since a few weeks ago when we spoke to Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker, who coined the term ‘Affrilachian.’ 

 

This week, we spoke to an innovator in this field of study. Dr. Bill Turner was the first scholar to combine interests in the fields of African-American and Appalachian Studies, having grown up himself in a coal mining town in Harlan County, Kentucky.

We spoke with Dr. Turner about the importance of rediscovering this part of our history, and why the image of Appalachia as a white region is so pervasive and lasting.

We also had K.A. Owens in our studio to tell us more about Tuesday night’s Kentuckians for the Commonwealth event, From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage. K.A. also helped make some connections between environmental preservation and social justice.

In our Juicy Fruit segment, we talked about Janet Mock’s recent video on Colorlines, where she discussed the part sex work played in her life, and drew some comparisons between her story and that of Venus Xtravaganza from our favorite movie, Paris is Burning.

And to wrap things up, we talked about some of our favorite black history figures in honor of Black History Month! We’ll be spending time throughout February paying tribute to some of the folks who mean the most to us—both those you know, and those who may be new to you. Happy Black History Month, Fruitcakes!

Laura Ellis

Laura is the producer of Strange Fruit, a weekly talk show focusing on race and gender, and produces other news & feature programming.

@funambulator

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