Mostly white NAACP chapter takes root in unlikely location

“In September 1923, a white woman in Mitchell County, in the mountains of western North Carolina, reported that she had been raped by a black man.

“Within hours, a white mob began rounding up black residents. Drinking whiskey and carrying guns, the mob marched their hostages to the train depot, stopped a southbound train and loaded them onto the railcars.

“Nearly a century after the ethnic cleansing, Mitchell County remains one of the whitest counties in the state…. Close to 80 percent of voters supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election….

“All of which makes it more striking that Mitchell County and its neighbor, Yancey County, are home to a large, thriving branch of the NAACP. Formed in 2013, the Yancey/Mitchell County NAACP branch has around 140 members. Virtually all are white.”

— From “This North Carolina County Has a Thriving Branch of the NAACP—and It’s Mostly White” by Michael Schulson in The Nation (Oct. 31) 

Mitchell County has been listed as a probable “sundown town.”


Where small-time journalism digs out big-time corruption

“Yancey County is located in the mountainous western stretch of North Carolina, about 45 minutes from Asheville. The county’s population is less than 18,000, and yet it has two local papers: the Yancey Common Times Journal, which has been in publication more than a hundred years, and the ‘other’ newspaper, the Yancey County News, founded in 2011.

“The paper’s masthead lists only two people — husband and wife Jonathan and Susan Austin — but nevertheless, its first year out the Yancey County News has won two major journalism awards… for stories reporting on corruption in the county’s official channels.”

— From “The Tiny Newspaper in North Carolina that Scooped up Journalism’s Big Prizes” in the Awl, June 8. (Hat tip to John L. Robinson at Media, Disrupted)

How exhilarating in the midst of such depressing newspaper news to be reminded what wonders can be achieved by two people with a press. Congratulations, Austins.