Junaluska: Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community edited by Susan E. Keefe, The Junaluska Heritage Association
- Appalachian State University Common Core Reading Choice 2022
Junaluska is one of the oldest African American communities in western North Carolina and one of the few surviving today. After Emancipation, many former slaves in Watauga County became sharecroppers, were allowed to clear land and to keep a portion, or bought property outright, all in the segregated neighborhood on the hill overlooking the town of Boone, North Carolina. Land and home ownership have been crucial to the survival of this community, whose residents are closely interconnected as extended families and neighbors.
Missionized by white Krimmer Mennonites in the early twentieth century, their church is one of a handful of African American Mennonite Brethren churches in the United States, and it provides one of the few avenues for leadership in the local black community. Susan Keefe has worked closely with members of the community in editing this book, which is based on three decades of participatory research.
These life history narratives adapted from interviews with residents (born between 1885 and 1993) offer a people's history of the black experience in the southern mountains. Their stories provide a unique glimpse into the lives of African Americans in Appalachia during the 20th century--and a community determined to survive through the next.