The black former miners of Lynch, Kentucky, are troubled that no one knows their stories. The nation’s news media, and even the publishers of literary memoirs, feed the myth that the forgotten people of Appalachia are essentially hardscrabble white folks. This can be used as an explanation for Trump-supporting racism and destructive “white trash” stereotypes. It also erases the truth of the historical black presence in Appalachia.
“Trump was just trying to get the vote, we all know the coal industry is changing,” Bennie Massie told me. He and others are disturbed that black miners are not only erased from the region’s narrative today, but have been undervalued throughout its history.