3 weeks ago
Appalshop shares the sorrow of so many in Appalachia, the South, and the world over for the passing of our longtime friend and partner, Elandria Williams.
Elandria, or E, was a freedom fighter whose work at the Highlander Research and Education Center brought them into close partnership with Appalshop. Their Seeds of Fire program worked together closely with our Appalachian Media Institute to create and strengthen youth leadership, sharing a hope and vision that young people’s voices and talents could build a better future in our region.
E and Rebecca O’Doherty, our former AMI Director, became fast friends who modeled a rare adult allyship — stepping back to let youth facilitate, be deciders, and speak their truth to power.
They published scholarship on Appalachian studies and public policy together with the help of the University of Michigan’s Katie Richards-Schuster, joined with other regional youth organizations like High Rocks in West Virginia, and brought young people in force to regional conversations such as the Appalachian Studies Association and the Central Appalachian Regional Network.
E brought Appalachian youth together across difference: from small cities, coal towns, and mountain farms, as well as all sorts of racial and class backgrounds. It became clear that our region needed more youth infrastructure and representation, so E assisted in the creation of The STAY Project, a youth-led Appalachian network of kinship and organizing.
A generation of allyship, networks, community, and family has been built through central Appalachia because of E's love and work.
Our work, too, was strengthened by knowing and working with E. Youth in our region will continue to experience what E helped create; Appalachia is better because of E.
From all of us at Appalshop, rest easy Elandria — we miss you.
If you wish to make a donation in honor of E, please do so at the People’s Hub, where they served as the Executive Director.