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Appalachian Heritage - Special Issue: Blacks in Appalachia
A Word From Alex Haley
Two of my involvements of late tie to the theme of this issue of Appalachian Heritage. At the request of Bill Ferris and Charles Reagan, I wrote the foreword to the critically acclaimed Encyclopedia. A year or so after that, at the request of John B. Stephenson, president of Berea College, I narrated Once Upon a Vision, a documentary film of the bold and continuing efforts to achieve interracial education at the college.
This issue of Appalachian Heritage combines those themes of the Encyclopedia and the Berea documentary. It, too, is the labor of community workers, pastors, school teachers, photographers, college professors, writers, and others who have experienced, sensed, assessed intellectually, and helped to define what it is like to live and work in Appalachia and the South.
The mix of writers includes the old and young, the black and white, the urban and rural. The works represent present residents of the region as well as those having migrated from their Appalachian roots. Some of these presentations are well documented from primary research source materials, and others rely on oral history. Yet others represent the musings of Appalachians who themselves are coal miners, quiltmakers, folk artists, and the front-porch keepers of the culture. The result is a kaleidoscopic view of a rich, unique, and heretofore largely invisible people: the black people of the Appalachian region.
It is highly significant that this compendium comes forth at this time and from this special place (Berea College) about a largely forgotten group of people in the American mosaic. A few years ago John Stephenson said that Bill Turner, his student two decades previously, "probably knows more about black people in the mountains than anyone in the world." I am pleased to see Bill serving as special editor of this edition of Appalachian Heritage. And I'm pleased to help in spreading knowledge of the Appalachian experience through this special issue. ~ Alex Haley.
(The above foreword by Alex Haley is presented under the Creative Commons License. Appalachian Heritage Special Issue: Blacks in Appalachia was edited by William Hobart Turner. © 1991 Berea College. All Rights Reserved.)