According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Affrilachian” refers to African Americans who are native to or reside in the Appalachian Mountains. Theirs is a story of oppression, hardship, and abuse by the predominant white culture that overshadows them. It is also a story of triumph over those challenges—with family bonds and churches providing the most vital forms of refuge. Once thriving communities, now only remnants of Affrilachians remain.
Photographer Chris Aluka Berry and Affrilachian Artist Project founder, Marie Cochran, were recipients of a 2016 grant from the We Shall Overcome Fund under the auspices of the Highlander Center for Research and Education in New Market, TN. This funding helped spearhead the project which continues to date, and focuses on communities in northern Georgia and western North Carolina. The hope is that this project will serve as a historical record of a fading subculture. Its goal is to build awareness that the Appalachian experience is a multi-cultural experience that has been greatly shaped by Affrilachians whose ancestors came to the mountains centuries ago. This project can enrich our understanding of what Appalachian heritage means, and how much richer and more varied it becomes when viewed with such multi-colored hues.