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Mtn. Talk: Appalachian African American Cultural Center

Mtn. Talk: Appalachian African American Cultural Center


 In honor of Black History Month – every Monday in February we’re celebrating Black histories, current realities, and futures in the Appalachian region and beyond.  We begin this month long series, in Pennington Gap, Virginia at the Appalachian African American Cultural Center.

In November 2016 WMMT’s Benny Becker joined NPR’s Howard Berkes on a visit to the Appalachian African American Cultural Center where founder & director Ron Carson led them on a tour of the center, and shared personal memories and stories of growing up Black in the 50s and 60s in Southwest Virginia.  Carson shares memories of integrating the public high school in Lee County, and of his grandfather Spike Carson: a well-beloved musician in the area during the 1940s.  Towards the end of the tour, Ron’s wife Jill Carson also joins the conversation.


Ron Carson at the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center in 2016. Photo by Benny Becker


From the archives we bring you a short piece about Spike Carson, produced by Maxine Kenny for WMMT in 1992 – which features Ron Carson and his mother Shirley Taylor sharing memories of Spike and his music.


Photos and Documents on the wall at the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center. Photo by Benny Becker.


Last on this weeks episode we bring you a few songs written and performed by Pigmeat Jarrett from the June Appal recording “Look At The People.”  James Jarrett Jr. was born in Cordele, GA in 1899, and lived as a child in Rockhouse, KY in Pike County,  where his father worked as a coal miner, before his family later settled in Cincinnati. He passed away in 1995.

The cover of the Pigmeat Jarret’s album Look at the People, recorded at Appalshop’s JuneAppal records.



African-American history,
Appalachian African-American Cultural Center,
appalachian history,
education in the mountains,
Pennington Gap,
Southwest Virginia,

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