Art, Culture, & Black History Bring Family Home

Carolyn Hollyfield Rodgers and brother with images of their family, Appalshop Archive.

After seeing a segment on  CBS Sunday Morning about the defunding of the arts, I decided I would like to make a visit to the Appalshop to see what they actually did there.  I have to admit that seeing my family’s photo on CBS Sunday Morning, knowing it was archived there, was a big motivating factor. I also thought that it would be a great opportunity to revisit my hometown of Jenkins and share some of that history with my brother, my son, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren.

Hollyfield family, c. 1935-1955, photograph by William R. “Pictureman” Mullins.

While visiting the Appalshop, I was able to see the valuable contributions it is making to the community and how important it is to the Appalachian region as well as the country.  Needless to say, it made me proud that not only my history is being preserved, but the history of people like Pictureman Mullins and the culture of Appalachia.

– Carolyn Hollyfield Rodgers

The NEA Our Town grant program, Appalshop, and the City of Jenkins, Kentucky joined in working with regional and national artists as well as community members to produce permanent and temporary public art while also conducting innovative arts programming that fosters community interaction. The project “A City Built on Coal: Jenkins, Kentucky” builds upon the celebration of the Jenkins Centennial (1912 –2012) and includes development and launching of a media-rich walking/driving tour that highlights the historic industrial architecture and unique stories of the birth, life, and death of an American coalmining town and its sense of itself as part of a future beyond coal.

For more Black oral history of Letcher County, listen to these interviews with Lois Thompson, about civil rights, Black outmigration, integration, and the Black high school on the walking/ driving tour of Jenkins, KY.