Join our friends at the Black Appalachian Coalition (BLAC) for the release of their BLAC Paper entitled, “Black Storytelling and Policymaking in Appalachia.”
Black Appalachians have played a critical role in Appalachian history, but Appalachian narratives have been whitewashed. Neither the contributions of Black people to Appalachian history nor the harms experienced by Black communities are popularly known or appreciated, especially in media and policymaking.
Speakers identified many policy needs for Black communities in Appalachia—including access to healthcare and healthy foods, child and elder care, public transportation, clean air and water, more and higher quality education opportunities, criminal justice reform, jobs, and equal and higher pay.
Across all of these policy issues there is a common need for Black storytelling and participation as a precondition for policymaking. Narratives shape how policymakers prioritize public problems.
Narratives that leave out the Black parts of our region’s history and present guarantee that problems experienced by Black people won’t be prioritized. Policymakers should place more value on creating spaces for groups of Appalachians that have been historically oppressed or ignored to share their stories, and on helping shift narratives to accurately reflect the region’s past and present.
- Bishop Marcia Dinkins: founder of the Black Appalachian Coalition
- Melanie Meade: Clairton, PA resident
- Shana Goggins: Community Organizer with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
- Akisha Townsend Eaton
- Crystal Good: writer-poet, producer and founder of Black By God THE WEST VIRGINIAN