Affrilachian Poet Takes on Coal, History of Racial Tension in KY, UMWA Strike of 1984 and more


W.Va. Poet: “Appalachian Blackface” Story of 2014 Election Cycle: Have you ever heard the term ‘Affrilachian?’ It’s one poet Crystal Good uses to describe herself, an African American who grew up and lives in Appalachia. Good is a native of St. Albans, in West Virginia’s chemical valley. Good’s newest poem, “Appalachian Blackface,” premiered this fall at the Summit on Race Matters in Appalachia held in Charleston. She spoke with West Virginia Public Radio’s Ashton Marra about the poem itself and the connections she sees between blackface performers of the 1800s and today’s political leaders. Editor’s Note: This story contain some racially charged words that may not be suitable for all listeners.

Remembering the Wades, the Bradens and the Struggle for Racial Integration in Louisville: Residents in Louisville, Kentucky have been having their own conversation about the history of racial tension in the area.


Credit Credit Al Blunk / The Courier-Journal
The Courier-Journal
Andrew, Charlotte and Rosemary Wade stand on the front porch of their new home in Shively the day after someone hurled a rock through the front window.

Sixty years ago a white couple, Anne and Carl Braden, purchased a home on behalf of a young black family.

On Inside Appalachia we’ve been hearing excerpts from a documentary that was made about the Bradens.

This week, reporter Rick Howlett of WFPL in Louisville reports on the events sixty years ago that touched off weeks of racial violence and led to serious criminal charges against the Bradens.

What’s in a Name?: The segment on Inside Appalachia that explores to the stories behind Appalachian towns with some unique names. Since we started this segment we’ve received several suggestions to explore this Big Ugly, West Virginia. Listen to the podcast to hear two stories behind the name.

Media Outlets Challenge Gag Order in Blankenship Case


stills from the 1986 Appalshop film “Mine War on Blackberry Creek,” directed by Anne Lewis. At left, Don Blankenship; at right, armed guards (and what appears to be an attack dog) hired by Massey during the 1984-85 UMWA strike

Shortly after the recent indictment of Don Blankenship, Federal Judge Irene Berger silenced the families of those who lost family members in the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. Berger issued the broad gag order, silencing all parties involved and keeping many court documents out of public eye. Now several media outlets including Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR are challenging the order in court, saying it violates first amendment rights.

A Look Back to the UMWA Strike That Fueled Blankenship’s Rise to the Top of Massey Energy

In the wake of Blankenship’s indictment, Parker Hobson of WMMT looks back to 1984, when a strike by the United Mine Workers of America against Massey FIRST put Blankenship’s name in the national news, and helped fuel his rise up the chain of company command.The 1986 Appalshop film Mine War on Blackberry Creek, directed by Anne Lewis, profiled this strike. Click here to watch the entire documentary for free on the Appalshop website.


A haul road leads to the top of the Tams mountaintop removal mine near Beckley, W. Va., which is operated by Jim Justice’s Southern Coal Corp. Credit, Anna Boiko-Weyrauch/NPR

Billionaire Jim Justice Has Spent Millions in Charity, but Avoided Mine Safety Fines


Coal mine owner Jim Justice coaches from the sidelines as the Greenbrier East High School Lady Spartans play. Photo by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch/NPR

Over the past few weeks we’ve heard several reports from a special NPR investigation into the coal mining industry. The investigation revealed that some companies are operating above the law by not paying their safety fines. The investigation found that the mines with more delinquent fines, also have more safety violations. One of the companies with significant delinquent penalties is owned by West Virginia’s richest man, a billionaire and philanthropist who gives away many more millions than he owes. NPR’s Howard Berkes reports.

Inspiring West Virginians Series Continues: We all know that there are lots of talented, intelligent and just plain good people that come from Appalachia. Today we meet Bill Petros, a native of Wheeling, W.Va, .who ran one of the top cancer research labs in the country for more than a decade. But as Jean Snedegar reports, West Virginia called him home.

Music in this episode of Inside Appalachia was provided by Andy Agnew Jr., The Glennvile State College Bluegrass Band, and Billy Edd Wheeler with “Coal Tattoo” from his album Milestons.

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