As Black As We Wish to Be

There's a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that most look white.

2013 / Lu Olkowski / State of the Re:Union, USA


There's a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that most look white.

"Race" has been tossed on its head in East Jackson, leading to discrimination from the town next door, internal family struggles, and searches – both scientific and historical – for new identities.

As Black as We Wish To Be was produced for State of the Re:Union by Lu Olkowski, with associate producer Laura Spero and editors Taki Telonidas and Sean Cole. Al Letson is host and executive producer of State of the Re:Union.

Find out how Lu and SOTRU decided to include interviewees' use of the n-word Behind the Scenes.


As Black as We Wish to Be was produced with the help of voice director Pejk Malinovski and academic advisors Beverly Gray, Lucia Stanton, James W. Loewen and Jake Bapst. The photographer was Lloyd Cederstrand. This documentary was sponsored by Ohio's Hill Country Heritage Area. and made possible with funding from the Ohio Humanities Council

See photos of East Jackson and the people interviewed for this story. Hear more episodes from State of the Re:Union. And listen to more stories by Lu Olkowski


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