West Virginia University Libraries will host the Women of Appalachia Project’s (WOAP) “Women Speak,” a presentation of story, poetry and song showcasing women artists from throughout the Appalachian region, April 22 from 1-3 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Milano Reading Room.
The performance will center around “Women Speak: Volume Eight,” a lavish mix of Appalachian female voices – northern, central, southern, Affrilachian, Indigenous, AppalAsian, LQBTQ, those differently abled and with developmental differences, emerging and well established – every voice raised in tribute to Appalachian endurance, honor, courage, love of family, community and the land. Copies are available online at www.sheilanagigblog.com.
“The success of this organization is based on the work of every single
woman who does, has or will someday take part, “whether as a participant,
volunteer, partner or supporter,” WOAP Founder/Executive Director Kari
Gunter-Seymour said. “We are a thriving network, a sisterhood in every sense of
the word, working toward the same goal – to lift up Appalachia and showcase it
in all its magnificent glory. No need for extreme acts, protest signs or
marches. Our work speaks for itself.”
In 1964 President
Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” focused on Appalachia. Congress
earmarked money to create social welfare programs but not job or education
programs, which served only to protect Appalachians from starvation, but
deprived them of self-respect and hope.
Women more often than
not, fell into greater poverty and ill health due to death of partners and
extremely inadequate medical care and nutrition during childbearing years.
Though much has changed over the years, “War on Poverty” photographs remain our
nation’s visual definition of Appalachia, many of the images drawn from the
poorest areas and people, which serves to perpetuate stereotype and
WOAP encourages participation from women of diverse backgrounds, ages, and
experiences to come together, share culture and experiences at arranged venues,
embrace issues of marginalization and stereotype; creating a force, unified and
non-violently confrontational, to show the whole women, beyond superficial
factors often used to judge her.