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Four Trailblazing Women in Appalachia Who Helped Pave the Way

courtesy photo
Ollie Watts Davis

This week on Inside Appalachia, we'll hear stories of women whose grit and determination changed their own lives - and changed other people's lives, too. 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 1940’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 doctorate in Musical Arts (D.M.A.) 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.

We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from Inspiring West Virginians.

Music in today’s show was provided by Darlingside, with “God of Loss” as heard on Mountain StageOllie Watts Davis, Ethel Caffie Austin, and Jake Schepps.

Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition.

We’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at feedback@wvpublic.org. Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.


Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.