Frank X. Walker, the 2013 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence, delivered the Scarborough Lecture titled “Voices from Affrilachia” and received the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award for the year on Sept. 26.
The night began with a few words from President of the Scarborough Society, Raymond Alvarez, and from Shepherd University president, Dr. Suzanne Shipley. After Shipley spoke, Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt, professor of English and director of the AHWIR Program, presented the 2013 Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award to Frank X. Walker. The Eastern Panhandle Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta served as hostesses for the entire evening.
Walker was on hand to present the 2013 West Virginia Fiction Competition Awards. Jessica Salfia from Martinsburg, W.Va. won third place for her story “The Healing” and Zach Davis also from Martinsburg won second place for his story “When It’s Over.” The winner of first place and a prize of $500 was Shepherd University graduate Paul Kessler for his story “The Mountains of a Quiet Earth.”
Once the awards had been presented, Frank X. Walker began his lecture on Affrilachia. Affrilachia is a term that Walker created himself to describe the combination of African-American culture and Appalachian culture. He came up with the term after looking up the word Appalachia in the dictionary and finding that the area was described as an exclusively white region. Many well-known African Americans come from the region of Appalachia including Booker T. Washington, Bessie Smith, Bill Withers, Nikki Giovanni and many more.
Walker then continued to read a few poems from his books “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers” and “Affrilachia.”
Shepherd University student Colin Lamas enjoyed Walker’s readings, saying that “even people who don’t like poetry can enjoy it.” Colin also discussed how some people might not think that civil rights need to be fought for anymore, but that he feels this idea to be wrong. He said that how Frank X. Walker used the arts to fight for civil rights was “brilliant.”