Pike County, Ohio – As Black As We Wish To Be

Posted on:

< < Back to


State of the Re:Union talks to a community in southern Ohio, where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that they look white.

Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white.

It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage.

“As Black As We Wish to Be” was produced by Lu Olkowski with help from Laura Spero and edited by Taki Telonidis.  Pejk Malinovski provided technical assistance.  DNA testing was provided by 23andMe.

“As Black As We Wish to Be” was sponsored by Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area and made possible with funding from the Ohio Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, or of the Ohio Humanities Council.