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Mtn. News: Reckoning with the Past, Organizing for the Future

Mtn. News: Reckoning with the Past, Organizing for the Future


In this episode we’ll hear about young folks organizing for a more inclusive and sustainable future in their mountain homes.  Then, we’ll learn about how community groups in Wise County, Virginia are working with Montgomery Alabama based Equal Justice Initiative to acknowledge the history of lynchings in their county through research and public markers.  And last, from the Ohio Valley Resource, we’ll learn about a recent report citing the Ohio Valley region as home to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country.

STAY Project members outside the Appalachian Love Fest in Harlan, KY on February 15, 2020. Left to right: Geonoah Davis, Sav, Jules Kessler, Brad Harris, and Mekyah Davis. Photo by Rachel Garringer.


First, WMMT’s Rachel Garringer takes us along on a visit to The STAY Project’s Appalachian Love Fest.  STAY – which stands for Stay Together Appalachian Youth – is a regional network of young folks from across the Central Appalachian region.  On February 15th, 2020 they hosted their first ever music festival at Moonbow Tipple Coffee in downtown Harlan, KY.  Rachel recorded some of the performances, and interviews with young folks from Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia about STAY’s annual Appalachian Love Week and the complicated love they hold for the Appalachian region.

Then, WMMT’s Rachel Garringer brings us a story about residents in Wise County, Virginia who are working to reckon with the history of lynchings in the County through The Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project. That project aims to recognize the more than 4,400 documented victims of lynchings across the American South between 1977 and 1950.

Their website describes the purpose of the project:

“To create greater awareness and understanding about racial terror lynchings, and to begin a necessary conversation that advances truth and reconciliation, EJI is working with communities to commemorate and recognize the traumatic era of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites across the country and erecting historical markers and monuments in these spaces.”


UVA Wise History Professor Tom Costa, and students Tommy Noble, Dylan McCabe, and Zoe Crihfield presented about their research into lynchings in Wise County, VA in the early 1900s. February 12, 2020. Photo by Rachel Garringer.


As a part of that work Tom Costa, a history professor at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and retired teacher Preston Mitchell have been working with students Zoe Crihfield, Tommy Noble, and Dylan McCabe to research the lynchings that took place in Wise County. On February 12th, 2020 – they held a public presentation of their research at the College. 

Last in this episode: a new report finds the Ohio Valley has some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. The study comes from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, an initiative to eliminate or alleviate poverty through action-based research. Ohio Valley Resource reporter Becca Schimmel has the story.

Intro and outro music on this episode feature Pigmeat Jarret with a tune called “Walkin Blues” off of his album Look At All The People. Other music on this episode comes from Earl Gilmore off of his album From the Depths of My SoulBoth of those albums were released by Appalshop’s own Juneappal Recordings.





arts & culture,
Black History Month,
Equal Justice Initiative,
the STAY project,