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Appalachia and the Health of the Nation

Barbara Ellen Smith, Lesley-Marie Buer, and Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson discuss single heath issues such as black lung, overdose deaths, HIV and hepatitis C, COVID-19, in Appalachia and what they reveal about the cracks in America's health and health care systems in general.

Most responses to these single issues have done little to change the overall systems, but there are initiatives and groups that offer glimpses of what change could look like. They will explore topics such as mutual aid, researcher/clinician/community member coalitions, harm reduction, street medics and how they can be applied in Appalachia and beyond.

Barbara Ellen Smith has participated in and written about movements for social justice in Appalachia and the U.S. South for more than forty years. She is professor emerita at Virginia Tech.

Lesly-Marie Buer is an activist and public health practitioner at Positively Living/Choice Health Network in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her work on substance use and harm reduction has appeared insuch publications as Boston Review, the Journal of Appalachian Studies, and North American Dialogue.

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 33 year old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. She is the Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center in New Market, TN. She has served as president of the Black Affairs Association at East Tennessee State University and the Rho Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is a long-time activist working around issues of mountaintop removal mining, and environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has served on the National Council of the Student Environmental Action Coalition. She is an active participant in the Movement for Black Lives and is on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly.

Be sure to check out Lesly-Marie Buer's new book, Rx Appalachia: Stories of Treatment and Survival in Rural Kentucky, available from Haymarket Books.