Inside Appalachia Explores the Rebel Flag

Jul 3, 2015

This week, Inside Appalachia is hearing from people across the region, sharing their views about the Confederate Battle Flag.

It’s been a couple of weeks since nine people were killed at a Wednesday night prayer meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. After the violent shooting, photos surfaced that showed the confessed shooter, Dylan Roof, posing with weapons and a Confederate battle flag. 

Since the shooting occurred, South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, has called for the Confederate Battle Flag to be removed from the state capitol grounds. Haley said that while she understood that for many South Carolinians the flag represents respect for the memory of those who fought for the south during the Civil War, for others, the flag has come to represent hate. Later in July, the Klu Klux Klan plans to hold a protest against South Carolina’s removal of the flag.  

Also, at least seven black churches have burned across the south in the wake of the shooting. At this time, it isn’t yet clear how many of these fires were caused by arson. Such response shows this issue is still heating up across the south, and we wanted to check in with many of you to find out how Appalachians are dealing with these events.

Three Generations of an African American Family Share Their Views on Civil Rights, Slavery, and the Confederate Battle Flag

Three generations of an African American family in Elkins, W.Va., had this to say about the Confederate Battle Flag:

And our host, Jessica Lilly, talks with African American classmates from her former high school in Mullens West Virginia, where the mascot used to be The Rebels. Here’s Lilly talking with Angela Asbury and Nina Tunstalle:

Students at Mullens would paint banners to support the Rebels for big games like Homecoming.

Next, for some help understanding how the violent, admittedly racist mass murders in South Carolina could lead to a new conversation about diversity here in the Mountain State, we’re going to hear from David Fryson. Fryson is a pastor, a lawyer, and leads WVU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He recently spoke on a podcast from  West Virginia Public Broadcasting called the Front Porch. Executive Director Scott Finn is joined on this episode by Laurie Lin, columnist for the Charleston Daily Mail, and they ask Fryson, what’s the next step after this brutal slaying of nine innocent church goers?

What’s in a Name?
During the Civil War, the Confederate Army played “Dixie” as their official marching tune. On this show we explore where the name “Dixie” comes from. Where exactly is this place called Dixie and what’s the history behind the word? We caught up with historian Dr. Jonathan Berkey from Concord University, to find out more.

Alice Moore Says She Still Claims Confederate Pride
Next up, we’d like to share part of the latest episode of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s podcast Us and Them.  The podcast explores issues of cultural friction and conflict in America. His podcast often features a woman named Alice Moore, who has very strong views on religion and often fights for conservative values. And we caught up with Trey Kay this week to find out more about the podcast and this particular show. Trey Kay is a native of Charleston, West Virginia, but he now lives in New York.

Appalachian South Folklife Center Celebrates 50 Year Anniversary
The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Appalachian South Folklife Center is July 17-19 in Summers County, West Virginia. The Center’s founder Don West was a preacher, teacher, union organizer, farmer and poet. Don was a civil rights activist and educator who left a strong legacy and is said to blaze the trail for many who work for and preach, freedom and social justice. Don west was considered on the most prominent southern regional poets of the 20th century. In the 1940’s, his collection of poetry, Clods of Southern Earth, sold tens of thousands of copies. His wife, Constance Adams West, a native of East Kentucky and talented artist had her portraits shown in many shows and gallery's. She was an art teacher for many years and together with her husband, Don West, she founded the Appalachian south Folklife Center. The 50th Anniversary Reunion and Celebration: Symposium Honoring the Legacy of Don and Connie West will take place July 17-19, 2015. Old time Mountain Music Festival Appalachian South Folklife Center. Address: Rocky Mount Church Rd., Pipestem, W.Va. Contact phone: 304-466-0626. Contact e-mail: the_folks@folklifecenter.org.

Music in today’s show was provided by  Ben Townsend,  and special thanks to the Alan Lomax Collections at the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center for “Down By the Riverside” and “I'm Gonna Wait Till My Change Shall Come”.  Those songs are courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition.

Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.