On Tuesday, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed Kentucky SB 150 into law. This bill extends constitutional carry into Kentucky to concealed carry. Prior to SB 150, Kentucky limited constitutional carry to open carry. As a result, the list of constitutional carry states now rises to 16.
From an outsider’s perspective, the town of Whitesburg, Kentucky is a slight variation of any other coal-dependent, mountainous area of Appalachia. Appalachia is not exactly known for its glamorous opportunities or attractive living styles. The scenery of the region, as beautiful as it is, can’t take away the astonishing 19.7% poverty rate. But that didn’t stop one group of film students from recording various real-time news stories and storing them away to preserve their history in a place called ‘Appalshop’.
In the late 1960s, major news organizations gave a new look into the traditionalist, simple society. With the whole world now able to watch, a shop opened up on the outskirts of the Eastern Kentucky town. Originally meant to preserve the history of the town’s roots, the shop has erupted into so much more. It now provides entertainment through movies (directed, produced and edited in house) put on in their theater, a radio that celebrates diversity through music and commentary from Bluegrass to hip-hop channels, and even talk shows where citizens of the district call in to speak their voice. Even further, the shop has an art gallery showing off locally created pieces. All in all, the store truly celebrates achievements marked by members of the community.
Their 4,000-hour long archive of “film, audio and images” is their crown jewel. It includes stories of all perspectives about a wide variety of topics ranging from 1969 to the present. This provides a safe haven for both good and bad memories that the town holds. Through thick and thin, Appalshop will preserve the area’s history, and not let the community forget its roots. As a writer and a student, I know that history is important to learn from, because “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes”. It is important that the children and all people of Appalachia learn this as well, and the people working at Appalshop convey this in an informative way.
Poverty and unemployment plague the region of Eastern Kentucky in the heart of the coal mines and Appalachian mountains. As demand for common jobs like coal mining has subsided, poverty has skyrocketed. In Owsley County, the third highest rate in the U.S., poverty is now an astonishing 45.2%. Nine of the other top 30 counties with the highest poverty rates are also located in Eastern Kentucky. Some of this poverty is due to a decreased demand for coal. In fact, Eastern Kentucky coal employment has fallen by more than 70% in just seven years. As a result, many are seeking other sustainable job options in their own communities.
In steps Appalshop. In the year 1969, a group of students invested in high-quality technology to improve upon their films, and opened up a small shop. Since then, the company has grown immensely, and is known throughout almost all of Appalachia.
Today, according to their website, Appalshop “feeds more than $1,500,000 into the local economy each year”. Since this company has blown up in the region and over the Internet, it also has attracted the investments of other companies looking to relocate, or start up a business in the growing city of Whitesburg. When all of this money comes in, opportunity follows, and the poverty rate falls once more. Now, poverty in Whitesburg has dropped 12-13%, with recent data stating the area has a 28.1% poverty rate. One southern section of town has fallen as low as 11.4%. There is still more work to do, but Appalshop has made an impact on the poverty-stricken Appalachia, and only continues to gain traction.
I encourage readers to check out their website, where they will keep pushing out new and exciting projects. I also encourage you all to watch some of the fantastic content through film that they’ve been putting out for almost 50 years. You can find this here. The editors of the website consistently rotate which movies are available for free. Those not in the rotation are available for a small fee. Overall, Appalshop and its media serves as great learning experience from a perspective that few are in touch with.
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By Willie Johnson | United States
At few other times in history were the hearts and minds of Americans filled with so much fervor than the dawn of the American Civil War. Men from across the nation rallied to the cause of the North or South with passion that carried them into the jaws of death for four long years, fiercely loyal to the decision of their home states to either remain a part of the Union or to leave it. Although this allegiance was often reluctant, men on both sides usually put aside their personal opinions to defend their homes regardless of the larger cause―something that would never happen today.
Today, citizens of the United States refer to themselves as “Americans.” One people, united by a bond of a national identity made possible not only by modern travel and communication, but also by shared trials and tribulations throughout history. Before such circumstances as a depression or World War could bring us together, however, we more closely resembled an amalgamation of small, loosely organized countries. As a young nation defined first by colonies and then states, a resident of the Carolinas, for example, would refer to himself or herself as a Carolinian first, and an American second.
In a time when the bounds of technology limited the ability of any government to effectively rule large amounts of territory, the regional governments of states (and even counties, to some extent) played a much larger role in the lives of citizens than the federal government ever did. This created a perfect storm for civil war, however, as the regional differences intensified by this form of rule allowed for a gap between north and south to grow ever wider in the Antebellum period. When the question of secession finally arose, it was these states and counties that shaped the opposing sides. The counties of Kentucky, for example, contained split allegiances, and the state fielded both Union and Confederate troops as a result.
The fact is, if you were a white male between the ages of seventeen and forty in 1861, you would most likely join your friends and neighbors to fight for the State in which you were born. Your loyalty to your State Government, already largely independent from Washington, would supersede your loyalty to the United States as a whole. You would take up arms under the impression that you were doing so in defense of what was best for your state and its citizens. That isn’t to say that people did not see the larger cause, though; references to “defending the South” or “preserving the Union” are not uncommon in original letters from the highest ranking generals to the lowliest of foot soldiers.
In a letter to his children penned soon after leaving to join the Confederate Army, Lieutenant Samuel J. C. Moore of the Second Virginia Infantry perfectly expressed the reasons for his sacrifice. In it, he emphasized an attitude of state loyalty common among soldiers of both sides, and like many southerners, claimed to be defending his home from an invader:
“Do you know for what your Papa has left his family and his home and his office and his business? I will tell you. The State of Virginia called for all the men who are young and able to carry arms, to defend her against Lincoln’s armies, and it is the duty, I think, of every man to answer her call, and be ready to keep the army of our enemies from ever setting their feet in the state.”
Moore was simply one among millions of enthusiastic volunteers on both sides who understood exactly what was on the line. Before the war was over, his native Shenandoah Valley would be in ruins like so many other parts of the country, but not in vain. The country needed the most bitter of conflicts to become more unified and successful than ever before. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the nation rose to enter the industrial era as a world superpower. Although much progress was still on the way, the final result of the Civil War set the stage for the modern day.
Perhaps now more than ever, it is important to learn from history. It, unfortunately, took the deaths of over 600,000 men to change the way Americans thought of their identity, but that sacrifice ensured that America would never be the same. The Civil War achieved many other essential accomplishments, but its effect upon our idea of unity cannot be overstated. We went from the United States of America to the United States of America… a simple distinction forged in bloodshed.
By Matthew Geiger | BENTON, KENTUCKY
Kentucky authorities report that at least one student has been killed and five others have been injured in a school shooting.
The location is Marshall County High School, which is in southwestern Kentucky. The subject has since been apprehended.
The Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, has since posted the following tweet:
Tragic shooting at Marshall County HS…Shooter is in custody, one confirmed fatality, multiple others wounded…Much yet unknown…Please do not speculate or spread hearsay…Let’s let the first responders do their job and be grateful that they are there to do it for us…
— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) January 23, 2018