C. Lee Smith
With more than 20 years experience in public media & television production, Chris has written, edited, shot & produced programming for sports, news magazines, commercials & documentaries; PBS, FOX, ESPN, CBS, NBC and HGTV.
James Baines is from Chicago & a graduate of Columbia College's Audio Arts Program. Mr. Baines works as editor & engineer for the Black in Appalachia podcast. He & his family participated in the 'Great Reverse Migration' for a change of scenery and now call Knoxville home.
Documentation , Research & Engagement
William Isom II
William Isom is a East Tennessee native & the director of Black in Appalachia. He coordinates the project's research, community data base development, documentary film & photography production, oral history collection and educational events with residents.
Kathleen came to East Tennessee from Memphis. She received a Bachelor's in History at the University of Tennessee & has been working with Black in Appalachia to chronicle African American families from 1860 & 1870. She's also worked as a researcher & writer for the Kingsport Black history display project.
A native of Hawkins County, TN Tanner has BS from Carson-Newman University in Business Administration. He is currently working on a Masters of Business Administration from the same school & is contributing to the Black in Appalachia Project from his hometown of Rogersville.
A native of Elizabethton, Tennessee & graduate of Berea College, Alona has been working with Black in Appalachia to research & document the history of Black schools in Carter County and Middlesboro, Kentucky. She's incredibly active in Northeast Tennessee and continues to act to make her region one that her and her peers can thrive in .
Music, Arts & Culture
Kelle is an ukulele-playing performer of traditional African American music. She earned a B.S. in Music Education from South Carolina State University. She is the founder of Ukesphere of Knoxville ukulele club & the annual Women in Jazz Jam Festival. Kelle is the host of Jazz Jam on Knoxville’s WUOT 91.9FM.
A professional photojournalist & farmer, Jessica originally hails from Joliet, Illinois, but now lives & works out of Knoxville. Her work with Black in Appalachia centers around documenting the events & communities in Southeastern Ohio.
From South Florida, but now a resident of Knoxville Devyn has immersed herself into the culture of Southern Appalachia. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she has been working to document & build out the Bristol Black Businesses mapping project with the Black in Appalachia project.
Researcher & GIS
Misha is a cartographer & environmentalist from the Shenandoah Valley of WV. Since attaining her bachelor' degree from Vassar College, Misha has focused on education, community development, & Afro-Asian relations in China & Japan. Her current work for Black in Appalachia documents migrations of Black & POC communities through Appalachia & beyond.
Jillean McCommons is a Ph.D. student in History at the University of Kentucky. She's dedicated herself to researching & writing the histories of Black people in the Mountain South. Jillean is also a librarian, banjo enthusiast, and writer. Her Op-Ed columns have been published in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the History News Network, and Newsweek.
A popular educator, trainer & creative from N. AL and TN, Starr has educated across ages to address current economic and racial inequities in Central Appalachia & the South, along with food and land justice issues. Starr's current work is focused on Black land & place based projects in the South, along with farming, creative writing & music.