Jillean McCommons is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky. My dissertation project, “The Black Appalachian Commission: Regional Black Power Politics and the War on Poverty, 1969-1975,” is a social history of the Black Appalachian Commission (BAC), a Black-led grassroots organization created to address the specific needs of Black people in the thirteen states that comprise the Appalachian region. My dissertation highlights the intersections of Black Power Studies and Appalachian Studies by examining Black Appalachian demands for structural change during Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty through Richard Nixon’s subsequent dismantling of liberal policies after 1972. To understand Black conceptualizations of regional identity, my dissertation also draws on theories from the field of Geography, including Black Geographies and Black Ecologies, to uncover Black Appalachian epistemologies of land, identity, and place.
Post-fellowship placement: Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies, University of Richmond