JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Local filmmakers are partnering with regional leaders to document Appalachia’s complicated relationship with race.
The feature-length film, aptly titled “The Black Appalachian”, was born out of a star-studded conversation according to press release for the film. Johnson City filmmaker Joshua Mancuso and Old Crow Medicine Show founder Ketch Secor reportedly discussed the need for coverage of underrepresented voices in the region as early as 2019.
According to the release, Mancuso then set to work building a network in the area. One major part of his work has involved Adam Dickson, vice-mayor of Jonesborough and director of the Langston Center.
“When Josh approached me, I was immediately on board,” said Dickson, who is now a producer
on the project. “I was grateful that he thought of me. The Black Appalachian is an excellent
example of a proactive and constructive approach to promote the region’s diversity to outside
The film is planned to show diverse experiences across five states, and will feature voices from the top and bottom of the social ladder.
“We want to reveal the black experience in Appalachia, from pre-Civil War to today – the good
stuff and the tough stuff,” stated Mancuso. “But, we also want to highlight the many great
contributions African-Americans have made in Appalachian culture and beyond.”
Difficulties in filming arose in 2020 as pandemic precautions shuttered businesses and full-scale productions, but since then the release states that a $10,000 grant awarded by the 400 Years of African-American History Commission revitalized the project.
“As a maker of Appalachian-inspired music, I have always been compelled to better understand
the rich African-American heritage in our Southern Highlands,” said Secor, who is helping score the film. “From the Bristol Sessions to the coal mines, the labor movement to the
abolitionist movement, Black Appalachians have always been an integral part of the cultural
richness of this region. I’m proud to be on the forefront of this exciting new documentary
knowing that finally the story of this great American place will include its black patriots,
forbearers, and founders.”
Filming is currently underway, with public contribution encouraged. To donate to production or offer stories to the team, email TBAfilm@gmail.com.