Four Trailblazing Women of Appalachia, LISTEN To Their Stories


This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from women who overcame a lot of challenges to succeed as students, musicians, entrepreneurs and educators.

This week, we’ll hear from:

  • Mrs. Eunice Fleming: An African American woman who went to school in the 40’s and went on to inspire others as a school teacher.
  • Dr. Ollie Watts Davis: Once Mrs. Fleming’s student, Davis has had a very successful classical music career. She received a DMA in music from the University of Illinois, and she’s performed all over the world. When she made her debut at Carnegie Hall in 1990, Mrs. Fleming traveled to New York to see it.

  • Dr. Kendra Boggess:  From scrubbing floors at her parents’ business in Florida to a University president in West Virginia, Boggess doesn’t have your typical higher education background.

  • Judy Sheppard: The leader of a successful business based in her home state. Sheppard grew up with what she calls “nothing” – no electricity, no running water, no telephone, no television, and no toys.


    Credit Mountain of Hope and Mount Hope High School Alumni Association
    Eunice B. Fleming inspired many of her students to go to college. She also inspired many of them to go on to have successful music careers. Two of her most successful students are Ethel Caffie Austin and Ollie Watts Davis.


How did Mt. Hope, West Virginia get its name?

If you have another story about Mt. Hope, or know of another place in Appalachia with an interesting sound or mysterious folklore behind it, send us a tweet @InAppalachia #WhatsinaName.

Music in today’s show was provided by Darlingside, with “God of Loss”as heard on Mountain Stage, Ben Townsend, Ollie Watts Davis, Ethel Caffie Austin,  Jake Schepps and Dolly Parton. Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William.

We’d love to hear from you.   You can e-mail us at Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly. Inside Appalachia is produced by Roxy Todd and Jessica Lilly. Our editor is Catherine Winter.