Jillean McCommons

University of Richmond Professor Receives Appalachian Studies Association Fellowship For Research on Black History

July 9, 2024

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Jillean McCommons, assistant professor of history and Africana studies at the University of Richmond, has been awarded the Wilma Dykeman “Faces of Appalachia” Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Appalachian Studies Association, the Dykeman Fellowship honors the legacy of Tennessee writer Wilma Dykeman Stokely by awarding one person annually with funding to support scholarship on gender, race, and/or ethnicity in Appalachia.

McCommons will continue work on a book project, tentatively titled Black Appalachia: The Black Appalachian Commission and the Construction of a Black Regional Consciousness. Her book explores the history of the Black Appalachian Commission, a grassroots organization created in 1969 to advocate for the economic needs of Black people in the mountains.

McCommons is particularly interested the contributions of Black Appalachian women to the the BAC. She will use the fellowship funding to visit archives and collect oral histories from former members of the BAC throughout Appalachia.

"I am very grateful to the ASA for this award,” says McCommons. “Wilma Dykeman wrote so many field-defining books on Appalachia. She did what many of us aspire to do. I am pleased to be a part of that legacy."

McCommons has taught at UR since 2022. Previously, she was a 2020–2022 pre-doctoral fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia.