Who Does 'For The People' Include?

And what do charter schools mean for West Virginia's Black students? We want your voice.

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SURVEY: What do charter schools mean for West Virginia's Black students?

This year, a new law made way for WV’s first public charter schools. The state also created the HOPE Scholarship program: an education savings account option for parents that would allow currently-enrolled public-school parents to apply for up to $4,600 of education funding.

The financial support may go towards tutoring, educational therapies, private school tuition, and other individualized services. What are your thoughts?

Let us know by clicking the survey link below.


Equalizing Access for West Virginia’s Students
Written by HHOMA Executive Director Jill Upson for June 2021’s Black By God Magazine
Charter school revision, Hope Scholarship are focus of impending legal challenge by Brad McElhinny | August 19 for Metro News

WATCH: Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia
Foraging and Relations with Jonathon Hall

In this film, foodways storytellers and BBG supporters Mike Costello and Amy Dawson join fellow hunter and forager Jonathan Hall to sustainably harvest and preserve ramps.

Like the Black fishers, hunters and foragers recorded by another dear friend of BBG Mary Hufford in Harlem Heights in the 1990s, Jonathan reflects on the experience of being a Black outdoorsman hunting and foraging in virtually all-white spaces in rural West Virginia. 

The video discusses how racism has created unique barriers to entry to the practice of outdoor foodways traditions in Appalachia.


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

READ: Black Voters In West Virginia Are Tired Of Being Invisible
— by Clyde McGrady for the Washington Post

“Manchin’s recent notoriety as the dithering Democrat of the 50-50 Senate has put a spotlight on his constituents. And Black West Virginians are hoping that spotlight means some people might actually see them, for once — Manchin most of all,” McGrady wrote.

READ: West Virginia Once Led in COVID Vaccinations. Now, It’s Looking to ‘Trusted Voices’ to Overcome High Hesitancy
— by Taylor Sisk for 100 Days in Appalachia

“A significant percentage of those who are not yet vaccinated, health officials say, are among the “movable middle”: those who if given easy access to the vaccine and provided with answers to their questions and concerns will be receptive. Across Appalachia, trusted members of their communities are assuming those duties,” Sisk wrote.

READ: Nicole Pride resigns as West Virginia State University president
— by Joe Severino for the Charleston Gazette-Mail

“In the letter of ‘no confidence,’ which was obtained from an anonymous source and first reported by the Gazette-Mail, Cabinet members wrote that ‘[c]ondescending and abusive dialogue are common in exchanges with Dr. Pride,’ and ‘[h]er harassing dialogue and bullying behavior have contributed to a ‘hostile work environment.’ Her executive leadership team has continued to dwindle as a result of a psychologically unsafe and chaotic work environment,” Severino wrote.

And, from our Reader Loren Lynn Rousseau:

Please join me, Lynn Roussou, in questioning the WVSU Board on September 23, 2021, as to why they’re insisting on once again using a nationwide search at a cost of $80 thousand, the third search in less than 10 years, when David Fryson lives right here.

Letter: W.Va. State should have interviewed David Fryson for president (Gazette)

  • May 24, 2016: “As chairwoman of a committee pushing for David Fryson’s opportunity to become president of West Virginia State, not only am I disappointed, but incensed by the apparent lack of communication between the Board of Governors, the student body, faculty and the search committee. West Virginia State University, with its rich chronicle of being among the best historically black colleges in the United States, has made a grave error by not granting an interview to a man who is not only an alumni, as is his entire immediate family, but a faith-based and untiring professional, seeking to improve the West Side, involved in our Inter-Faith Council and a local voice to local citizenry,” Loren Lynn Rousseau wrote.


Black Farmers Struggle for Finance and Support in West Virginia:
Jason Tartt, founder of T&T Organics
| By Crystal Good

“Lip service gets paid to racial unity down here because McDowell County and Mercer County nonprofits, state and city agencies receive federal funding— and that funding comes with stipulations of equity. Rideout complained openly about Black folks receiving charity money. I was not offering charity but economic development. It seems that money may flow in West Virginia to Black folks if you offer a handout, but not if you offer a hand up,” Tartt said.

“We have the expertise, we have the capacity, we have proven the model. It is clear to me that if we farmers are growing food and community in a place like Vallscreek... If we were White, we’d be on the national news and receiving national support already, considering how much media and funding attention is focused on McDowell,” he said.

Full article will post in our next newsletter.

Pain, Pride, and Pelosi: COVID-19 eviction moratorium collapses just in time for school | By Maura Flynn

As the time to renew stable housing policy passed in D.C., the expiration of March 2021 legislation meant displacement for families across the U.S. despite changing again after a days-long demonstration by more progressive representatives pressured Biden to intervene.

Writer, editor, disability advocate and Indian-Appalachian mom Neera Doss Burner sat down with BBG to discuss her experience navigating eviction as her children start third and fourth grade in Cabell County Schools this week.

“We’re buying a home during a pandemic,” Doss Burner said. “So there are delays in the bank and with eviction protection, this would not be the situation that we're in. So it's very stressful. It's very sad. I'm having to take time off from work because I'm trying to secure where my family is going within a week.”

The notice to vacate the home they’ve shared for four years comes after 18 months of bare-minimum maintenance done to the property by their landlord, creating below-standard living conditions: a cookie sheet covering a hole in the ceiling, fallen trees and storm debris untouched, water damage shown on multiple walls and mold covered by paint (to name a few).

She said that rent payment was withheld in July and August of this year as one last effort to provide their children, one who has a respiratory condition already, with a house that didn’t threaten their health in addition to COVID’s spread as school starts. 

“These representatives who say they care but don’t show up for the people impacted the most?  It really shows their true colors. They don’t care about my children. They care about getting elected,” she said. 

News broke on July 31 that the U.S. House of Representatives’ Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi was essentially waving a flag of surrender to ensuring stable housing for families enduring the pandemic. “In an act of pure cruelty, Republicans blocked this measure— leaving children and families out on the streets,” Pelosi tweeted on July 31.

One freshman member of the House wasn’t as easily dissuaded: Missouri’s Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter organizer since the movement’s inception. Biden did take action under public scrutiny, but not in time for families like Neera’s.

Full article will post in our next newsletter.


As Congress is finalizing the big infrastructure and recovery package with trillions of dollars at stake, Black By God has been sharing the opinions and creative ideas of Black West Virginians through our opinion pieces, cartoons and content.

While much of the focus has been on Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Capito has continued to fail us. She has continually voted NO on many pieces of legislation that will significantly benefit West Virginians who have been struggling long before the pandemic. 

Beginning August 19th, groups are gearing up for 10 weeks of action where they will hold space once a week at one of Capito's offices starting on August 19.

Mark your calendar and click the link below!


If you are in Charleston, join folks after the action at 5:30 on Thursday, August 19 for a meet and greet at Phat Daddy's (480 Railroad Ave.)

Hope to see you there!

Keep Good,
~ Crystal | (304) 207-0352‬

When it comes to the debate over voting rights, one of our senators, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., gets all the attention. So I want to focus on Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s opposition to and misleading statements about the For the People Act.

Sen. Capito has derisively referred to the bill as the “so-called” For the People Act, and has made numerous inaccurate claims about it, including that the bill will use government funding to support congressional campaigns.

Let’s start with the facts. Sens. Capito and Manchin represent West Virginia, a state where the average income is just over $25,000. How can we expect the average West Virginia voter to have any influence on political campaigns or on our elected officials? Since 2010, only 11 people have contributed a fifth of the $4.9 billion super PACs have raised for campaigning.

I think the people should pick our politicians — not just the wealthy campaign contributors. The For the People Act would help level the playing field, establishing a 6-to-1 matching system for congressional or presidential candidates who reject enormous contributions. That means that everyday West Virginians could increase their political influence sixfold.

The best part? It would cost taxpayers nothing. Instead, the matching system would be funded entirely through extra charges on settlements paid by wealthy tax dodgers and corporate scoundrels.

We can’t afford to miss this opportunity to help all West Virginians participate in our political landscape. Passing the For the People Act would offer autonomy and respect in the caste system of Appalachia. It offers people — real people without political, social and economic capital — to find their way into the political sphere.

In calling it the “so-called” For the People Act, Sen. Capito is telling us who she thinks should have influence on the democratic process — her corporate donors, not her constituents. Please join me in calling on Sens. Capito and Manchin to support the For the People Act.

Crystal Good is a sixth-generation West Virginian and digital media entrepreneur.