Resources - Freedom Stories

All Freedom Stories resources are provided free of charge for educational and nonprofit purposes only; not for commercial use. We ask that these resources be used for the general good: for developing safe spaces, inclusive dialogue, and a deeper understanding of historically marginalized stories.


Freedom Stories at the National Storytelling Festival
Watch master storyteller Sheila Arnold as she brings to life true tales from the Underground Railroad. This special session began the two-year Freedom Stories initiative. This session includes a special...
October 5, 2019
Do Black Lives Matter in Appalachia?
Our first Freedom Stories public discussion posing the critical question, “Do Black lives matter in Appalachia?” including performance from National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow and co-founder of the...
July 3, 2020
Emancipation Saturday: An Appalachian Tradition
You’ve heard of Juneteenth, but what about Emancipation Saturday? This Freedom Stories discussion explores this lesser-known Appalachian emancipation celebration. The distinguished panel features Black in Appalachia founder, William Isom; author...
August 8, 2020
What You Don’t Know (But Should) About Appalachian Slavery
Antebellum slavery is most often associated with the Deep South: sprawling Mississippi cotton fields, Alabama sugar plantations, and Georgia estates straight from Gone with the Wind. But Central Appalachia had...
September 5, 2020
Stories of the Underground Railroad
Inspirational instrumentalist and storyteller, Reverend Robert Jones, Sr., brings to life true tales from the Underground Railroad. This session was originally presented as part of the 2020 National Storytelling Festival...
October 1, 2020
Melungeon: The Criminalization of Race
Our sixth Freedom Stories event explores the history of a tri-racial ethnic group prevalent in Central Appalachia and the rural Southeastern United States known as Melungeons. Through performance and discussion...
November 7, 2020
Jim Crow Appalachia: Slavery By Another Name
At the end of the Civil War, the South emerged with destroyed transportation and shipping lines, a devastated economy, and no labor force. The North and South agreed slavery was...
January 9, 2021
Profit and Power: Company Towns and the Exploitation of Appalachia
The end of the Civil War granted ascendancy of industry over agriculture. This economic shift in the American ideal gave birth to a new generation of American capitalist focused on...
February 13, 2021
Separate but Equal? Race-based Bias in Education
This is the ninth public discussion in our Freedom Stories series. Through performance and conversation with Emmy Award-winning storyteller, Bobby Norfolk; Langston Centre Supervisor, Adam Dickson; and Green McAdoo Cultural...
March 13, 2021
Out-Migration: Spreading Appalachia Abroad
This discussion, “Out-Migration: Spreading Appalachia Abroad” is a look at how Appalachian culture, specifically Black Appalachian culture, has spread to other areas of the country. We hear from wordsmith and...
April 10, 2021
The Civil Rights Movement: It Still Remains
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white patron, an act which sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. In 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr....
May 8, 2021
How Do We Talk to Each Other? Storytelling for Racial Justice
In 1776, America’s forebears declared that “all men are created equal.” Twelve years later, they developed their plan for “a more perfect Union.” While not unprecedented, these acts were unique...
June 12, 2021
Continuing the Conversation: Reflections on the Freedom Stories Initiative
Following two years of programming, six ISC staff, project supporters, and guest panelists come together to share their reflections on the Freedom Stories initiative and discuss hopes for continuing the...