Name of cemetery doesn’t change history

Lonna Jo Bowen-AlMoctar, Louisville, KY. I am from a clan of hillbillies in Eastern Kentucky. My family has a swath of land, called Bowen Farms, near Red River Gorge. As long as I can remember, the old cemetery on my family’s land has been called the “slave cemetery”. My Uncle has always kept up with […]

Hillbilly White Trash? I’m Oxford educated.

C. B, WV. I grew up poor in a rural West Virginia. My race, the way I talk and where I’m from immediately make people assume I’m illiterate, uneducated, and deeply racist without ever actually talking to me. The irony… I get so angry at how common and acceptable it is to use Hee-Haw accents […]

We Hillbilles are people too, really!

Cathy Jo Deusenberry, Davis, CA. No matter where you land in life, if you come from the hills of West Virginia you will always be a Hillbilly. We are nothing like the toothless uneducated people depicted in films, television and books. We are hard working folks with teeth!


I’m Appalachian–it’s an invisible ethnicity

Catherine Vance Agrella, Asheville, NC. I’m white, and by definition am associated with some of the worst perpetrators of racism. But I also come from deep Appalachian Scots-Irish roots and have a clear ethnic identity. I do know what it feels like to be mocked for my speech, or thought of as a dumb hillbilly, […]

White is not a single race

Slaton Anthony Mount Vernon, IA My last ancestor came to America before 1800 all from England, France and Germany. My ancestors fought and died in almost every American war, I was raised in the Cookson Hills of rural Oklahoma and believed that I was part of the American white culture. While attending college in Oklahoma, […]

Appalachian does not always mean “hillbilly”

B. D. R. Huntington, WV While I was born in Appalachia, I am not a West Virginia native. Still I tend to get my dander up whenever someone decides to pick on the region because of their ignorance. Almost 20 years ago I took a newspaper job in Connecticut and was very excited that my […]