Crowdsourcing Appalachia

Roger May's Latest Project, "Looking at Appalachia," Brings Multiple Photographers Together to Capture Mountain Folks as They Are


Top Row: Roger May, Bottom Left: Chris Jackson Bottom Right: Micah Cash

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In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared unconditional war on poverty in the United States and nowhere was this war more photographed than Appalachia. A quick Google image search of “war on poverty” will yield several photographs of President Johnson on the porch of the Fletcher family home in Inez, Ky.

Many of the War on Poverty photographs, whether intentional or not, became a visual definition of Appalachia. These images have often drawn from the poorest areas and people to gain support for the intended cause, but unjustly came to represent the entirety of the region while simultaneously perpetuating stereotypes.

In an attempt to explore the diversity of Appalachia and establish a visual counter point, this project will look at Appalachia 50 years after the declaration of the War on Poverty. Drawing from a diverse population of photographers within the region, this new crowdsourced image archive will serve as a reference that is defined by its people as opposed to political legislation.

— Roger May

The Bitter Southerner will continue to follow the project throughout the year. May's goal is 100 photos from each of the states in the Appalachian region. We plan to share with you what this beloved region and its people look like today.


When defining Appalachia, many people forget that parts of states like New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio are also a part of the region more familiarly associated with the likes of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee. 



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