The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the campus of Fairmont State University has received a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to support the “Diversity in Appalachia Lecture Series.” This series of programs features scholars/practitioners who will look beyond the “white, Anglo-Protestant, working-class” culture that is commonly believed to represent all of Appalachia to reveal the diversity that sometimes lies hidden in many communities. Each presentation will be approximately 60 to 75 minutes long and will be followed by a question/answer session.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the West Virginia Humanities Council,” notes the Folklife Center’s interim director, Dr. Francene Kirk. “This series is in response to this year’s campus book, Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. The staff at the Folklife Center along with the Fairmont State campus book committee thought it would interesting to hear stories and opinions that might be in contrast to that of Mr. Vance. Our hope is that this lecture series will spark discussion about who lives and works in Appalachia and how our heritage has an impact on who we are as a people.”
On Thursday, September 13, Joe Valencic from the Cleveland-style Polka Museum will talk about Slovenian migration to West Virginia and the polka music that group brought with them.
Dr. John Boback will speak about the diversity among native people who lived in what is now Central Appalachia before the arrival of the Europeans. His presentation is on Wednesday, September 19. On Tuesday, September 25, Dr. Ellesa High will discuss Native Americans in modern-day Appalachia.
Dr. Connie Rice and Ilene Evans will talk about “The Great Migration” of African-Americans to the coal fields on Monday, October 8, and Reverend Richard Boywer will talk about his experience 50 years ago during the Farmington Mine Disaster on Tuesday, November 13.
All of the presentations are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the campus of Fairmont State University. Thanks to the support of the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Fairmont State University Foundation, these presentations are free and open to the public.
The West Virginia Humanities Council is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For additional information about the Diversity in Appalachia Lecture Series, contact the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at 304-367-4403.