I’ve had the chance to learn and write a little bit about the history of the southwestern Virginia counties that border Smith Mountain Lake. I’ve learned some of the area’s darker history from Beth Macy’s excellent book, Truevine, and also from our neighbor, who grew up in Woolwine, Virginia, not too far from here.

I’ve seen the Confederate soldier manning the porch at the Franklin County Historical Society, and have been in there doing research when other folks have come in looking for their ancestors among the volumes of data amassed inside.

But this week I was grateful to the Washington Post for its article about how Franklin County, a tiny county (56,000 of us as of 2019) was introduced to the Black Lives Matter movement. “When Black Lives Matter came to white, rural America,” tells the story of three women, Katosha Poindexter, Bridgette Craighead, and Malala Penn, who are trying to raise awareness of racial justice here.

I learned that Franklin County is nearly 90 percent white, which supports what I’ve seen in the past two years we’ve lived at the lake. I learned that the Ku Klux Klan was very active not very far from where we now live. And sadly, from some of the comments on local social media pages about the women’s BLM protest, I learned that some ugly attitudes are still around.

Fortunately, I’m catching up today with a college friend who has a keen eye and ties to Smith Mountain Lake; maybe Heidi will help me sorth things out.

2 thoughts on “It’s a Complicated Place, Franklin County

  1. Dear Anne – As always, I enjoyed your blog. It is always good to hear your perspective as a new(ish) transplant to our beautiful area. As club president of SML Democrats, I can tell you that we were pleased and delighted to support Bridgette, Katona, and Malala and their Protesting with Love effort that afternoon in front of Wendy’s at Westlake and before that for several peaceful protests in Rocky Mount.

    Like

    1. I live that you all did that and I wish I had done the same! I was on my break from Facebook and heard about the whole thing late from our daughter, who monitors the SML residents page.

      Like

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