Organizers with the Corbin Sunup Initiative said approximately 100 people tuned in to the Zoom meeting Friday for night the presentation of Black in Appalachia’s, “The Corbin Expulsion of 1919.”
The documentary was the work of William Isom, director of Black in Appalachia, and Matt O’Neal, a PhD student at the University of Georgia.
The duo worked to uncover the facts behind an event that has been the source of rumors and speculation for a century. On the night of Oct. 30, 1919, 200 black railroad workers and Corbin residents were forced out of town.
That event has fueled Corbin’s reputation as a city that African-Americans should avoid even traveling through.
“Following the presentation of the documentary, guests were invited to submit questions.
“It went very well,” said Lisa Garrison, a member of the leadership team of the Sunup Initiative.
Garrison said bringing the event to light is not about associating the residents of Corbin with those that participated in the 1919 incident, but about bringing out all of the facts.
“It was a situation that we can learn from,” Garrison said. “It was not all of Corbin that was involved, but it has tainted Corbin. That is unfortunate, because a lot of people didn’t want that to happen.”
“The good was also highlighted as well as the bad,” she said.
Friday’s event, including the comments from Isom and O’Neal, and the discussion afterward, is linked on the Sunup Initiative Facebook page.
The documentary alone may be viewed on youtube.com by searching for “The Corbin Expulsion of 1919.”
Officials with the Sunup Initiative have previously emphasized that their goal is not to guilt or shame the residents of Corbin.
“This is about letting history speak for itself,” they said.
“If we put our history in some closed off dark place, nobody is going to see it,” Garrison added.