Blair Mountain On The One

From Black Appalachian music to protests on Capitol Hill, the voices of resistance are ever-intensifying.

Black By God is exploring West Virginia Hip Hop through curator Byron Holmes— sharing the cultural past, present and future in the series Trapalachia.

As an educator, lecturer, entertainer, promoter and activist in the greater Indianapolis area, Byron Holmes’ interest is to first and foremost emphasize equity and exposure among underserved communities.

Born and raised in Huntington, where he attended Huntington High School as well as Marshall University, Holmes worked in Marshall’s Center for African American Student’s Office while studying journalism and mass communication. He is the founder and chief executive of The Phresh Collective, a company that specializes in mixed-media, marketing and brand management for small businesses, non-profit organizations and artists.

If Black Appalachian music interests you further, we highly recommend SEPIA TONES, a podcast with Dr. Bill Turner; and this new photography collection Complimentary Over Competition’ created by Leeshia Lee.

West Virginia native Nee Nee Incognita was celebrating her first magazine cover and single release, but not alone. The self-proclaimed Coldest allowed other female artist from around the state to share the spotlight.

Being in an industry that makes it seem as if there is only room for one woman at time can be a challenge. It promotes competition over collaboration. To see a group of female artists choose to be complimentary instead of competitive was a vibe unmatched. Scoobies Bar turned into a breeding ground for women boosting each other’s egos with genuine comradeship and kudos. — Leeshia Lee


BBG | Exclusive Stories

Almost Heaven ‘Til We Get There | By Crystal Good

Our history sits in a fate that only future historians will tell, if history tells us anything about those voices that did not feel heard. For years I claimed I’m Appalachian or Affrilachian, a Black Red Neck Hillbilly.

But today, I pause.

I am a person from a place named Appalachia — stolen Shawnee, Mingwe, and Delaware land — navigating the next chapter of my American history that cannot center on whiteness or the illusion of solidarity as led and told by whiteness.

I am from a place named West Virginia, and I will not forget the stories of those that came before me. I still live in the fight that battles “the company” and often fights the ones battling the company with me.

read the full article


COVID eviction moratorium collapsed just in time for school | By Maura Flynn

Pain, pride and Pelosi: three things that have weighed heavily on the mind of writer, editor, disability advocate and Indian-Appalachian mom Neera Doss Burner.

At the end of August, her two children started third and fourth grade in Huntington, West Virginia's Cabell County School District. That was the same time her family was evicted because lawmakers failed to renew legislative protection against displacement. And, within the first two weeks of classes, her daughter has transitioned back to quarantined-learning after exposure to a COVID+ peer.

The Burner family’s story raises quite the question for elected leaders: how can parents be expected to provide quality homeschooling for their children while being evicted from their homes?

Doss Burner sat down with Black By God to discuss what navigating such turmoil has meant for their family— and why pushing back against the stigma and shame of eviction is critical.

“I’m proud of the people that we are and I have the audacity to say something. We’re all so much closer to losing any sense of security than we know and I truly think pushing back against the stigma that this is any bit shameful, or that it should be secretive, gives it a face to give it a little less power,” she said.

Read the full article


News To Know (& Some You Wish You Didn’t)

Remembering Levi Phillips

“Our condolences to the friends and family of Levi Phillips, @WVUHoops legend and pro-player, Charleston native and community anchor,” WV Folklife Program shared on August 25.

Celebrate Levi’s life through his memorial service and listen to a February 2020 interview with Phillips from the podcast Out Of The Blocks.

From the episode: “He’s infamously known for making the first basket in West Virginia’s new coliseum. My name is Justin Phillips and I am the son of Levi Phillips. His group of guys at WVU was the first all-black integrated team in NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball. They said there wasn’t a thing Levi Phillips couldn’t do on the basketball court and he was a guy they said, ‘Well, you know, it looks like he’s not playing hard. He’s just gliding around the court.’ And then the game’s over and he has a triple double and you know, so, that’s just the type of player that everyone tells me he was, and that’s what I’ve seen on film as well.”


READ: State of Working West Virginia 2021: Labor, Race, and Solidarity

With content originally published via the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

The 14th edition of the WVCBP’s labor series explores the interrelated declines of worker power and economic equality in the Mountain State. It also examines the economic transition that took place in recent decades as inequality grew, wage growth stagnated, and job quality declined.

But beyond the data, this report will take an in-depth look at the labor history of West Virginia — exploring both how strong unions played a key role when we grew together, and how their decline played a key role when we started to grow apart.

The report was written in three parts:

  • Examining the economic transition that took place in recent decades as inequality grew, wage growth stagnated, and job quality declined in West Virginia. It draws heavily on quantitative data to argue that the decline of unions was a significant factor in the rise of economic inequality.

  • Taking a qualitative, in-depth look at the labor history of West Virginia – exploring both how strong unions played a key role when our state grew together, and how their decline played a key role when it started to grow apart.

  • Outlining policy recommendations to strengthen worker power in West Virginia, which in turn could contribute to improving the state’s economic performance.

Read the full report here


LISTEN: Power and the West Virginia Coalfields from Black in Appalachia

“We're talking Black life in the West Virginia coal camps, the Mine Wars and the struggles for Black political power & workers' rights with excerpts from our visit to the @WarsWV Museum, a talk with retired miners and the one and only Dr. Joe Trotter.”

And, what is the Black in Appalachia podcast? Through historical and contemporary stories of people, places and experiences hosts Enkeshi El-Amin and Angela Dennis interrogate what it means to be Black in Appalachia, creating space where under-told stories can be heard and Black identity can be reclaimed.

VOLUNTEER: Mountain Farm Community Grocery needs your help!

Mountain Farm Community Grocery in McDowell County is hosting two back-to-back volunteer weekends Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 11 and 12 and Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18 - 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will provide PPE and snacks!

To get in contact with organizers, email crystalcookmarshall@gmail.com.

Donate items on their needs list


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs & Opportunities


FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK:

I’ve been working on an article titled “Media’s Evolving, Inclusion Is Not.” As I spent time thinking about equity in the way news is made, I decided to share my op-ed through an open Google Doc to invite community editing and comments.

I hope you will join this news experiment by adding your own thoughts and comments.

MEDIA IS EVOLVING, INCLUSION IS NOT


Think Wikipedia-meets-community-folk-journalism, or let’s just call it a community conversation — and that to me is how the news should be made… By and for the people.

Speaking of For The People, we hope you enjoy our new cartoon and will consider donating to Black By God to keep our cartoons and newsletters going.

Keep Good,
~ Crystal (304) 207-0352‬

A guest post by
Urban Appalachian Photojournalist
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