‘Junaluska: Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community’ selected for the 2022-2023 Common Reading Program


BOONE, NC — For its 25th anniversary, Appalachian State University’s Common Reading Program has named “Junaluska: Oral Histories from a Black Appalachian Community” as its 2022-2023 book selection for the new class of freshman and transfer students.

“’Junaluska’ is truly a book that can bring students and community members together. It is a testament and testimony to family and faith, heritage and community, perseverance and resilience.

Dr. Don Presnell, App State Common Reading Program Director

Each academic year, the program committee selects a book intended to foster and guide interdisciplinary intellectual exchange and exchange among all incoming students, who receive a copy of the book during their orientation sessions.

According to McFarland, the book’s publisher, Boone’s Junaluska community is one of the oldest African-American communities in western North Carolina.

Dr. Don Presnell, director of App State’s Common Reading Program, said “Junaluska” – published in 2020 as part of McFarland’s Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies series – is “truly a book that can bring together students and members of the community”.

“The book is not only the story of a ‘village within a village’, but also a living example of participatory research. It is a testament and testimony to family and faith, heritage and community, perseverance and resilience,” he added.

As with last year’s selection – Nora Krug’s “Belonging” – the stories and themes of “Junaluska” will be especially meaningful to freshmen, whose transition to college will open a new chapter in their own personal and educational experiences, Presnell said.

Common Reading Curriculum Selection is a required component of App State’s freshman seminar courses. Presnell said the program — part of App State’s University College — encourages and works with university departments and faculties “to integrate the book into their programs and disciplines so that all App students State can participate and share a common reading and intellectual experience. ”

A variety of activities, speakers and events related to “Junaluska” will be part of the year-long joint reading experience, starting in mid-September. Details will be available as events are finalized.

Visit the Common Reading Program website for updates and to learn more about the program.

Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community

Edited by Susan E. Keefe with assistance from the Junaluska Heritage Association

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 keep some of it, or purchased outright property, all in the segregated neighborhood on the hill overlooking the town of Boone, North Carolina. Land and real estate ownership has been crucial to the survival of this community, whose residents are intertwined as extended families and neighbors. Missioned by Krimmer White Mennonites in the early 20th century, their church is one of the few African-American Mennonite Brethren churches in the United States, and it offers one of the few avenues of leadership in the local black community.

Susan Keefe worked closely with community members to edit this book, which is based on three decades of participatory research. These life story accounts adapted from interviews with locals (born between 1885 and 1993) offer a folk story of the black experience in the southern mountains. Their stories offer unique insight into life for African Americans in Appalachia in the 20th century and one community determined to survive the next.

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Common reading program

Since 1997, new freshmen in Appalachia have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to college. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a common experience with other new students that helps develop a sense of community and introduces them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian. This program is an exciting facet of the first year experience at Appalachian.

App State Common Reading Program announces “Belonging” as 2021-2022 book selection

April 9, 2021

As part of the 2021-2022 App State Common Reading Program, all incoming freshmen and transfer students will receive a copy of Nora Krug’s award-winning graphic memoir e-book “Belonging: A German Matters with History and Home” during their orientation sessions.

About the Appalachian Common Reading Program

Since 1997, new freshmen at Appalachian State University have been asked to read a book as part of their college orientation. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a common experience with other new students that will help them develop a sense of community with their new surroundings and introduce them to a part of academic life as they begin at Appalachian. This program is an exciting facet of orienting new Appalachia students to campus life. Learn more at https://commonreading.appstate.edu/about.

About University College

Established in 2007, University College includes the university’s general education program, faculty and student support, and extracurricular programming and support – all designed to support student work in and out. outside the classroom. All Appalachian students begin their education at University College and benefit from its programs until graduation. Learn more at https://universitycollege.appstate.edu.

About Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead meaningful lives as global citizens who understand and take responsibility for creating a future sustainable for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to gain and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and purpose, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system. Appalachia is home to over 20,000 students, has a low student-faculty ratio, and offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.


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