Expert on Appalachia Reacts To 20/20 Report

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

It continues to spark controversy and debate. Nearly 50% of you said on our web channel that the recent ABC 20/20 special was stereotypical.

One expert on Appalachia, featured in the ABC report, says the special could be good for Eastern Kentucky.

No matter what you thought about the recent 20/20 special, "A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains," one thing seems certain.

"It has certainly generated lots of debate, discussion, dialogue, that we haven't had in the mountains in some time," said Dr. Ron Eller.

Just today, appalachian expert Dr. Ron Eller, who was interviewed in the report, spoke to students at Union College about how he thinks we should be reacting to the ABC special.

"I hope young people can look beyond the stereotypes that are there, and begin to come together, and find new and creative ways to address the reality of the problems," said Dr. Eller.

"Although it did offend some, it did truly shed light on the Appalachia a lot of people aren't sure actually existed," said Camillia Helms.

Eller says the problems are not only found here in Eastern Kentucky, but in places around the country. He says we can not depend on others to fix them.

"Nobody else is going to fix 'em for us, we're going to have to work from within, and if this stuff bothers us, then we need to go out there and see what we can do to reach out," said Jonathan Hendrickson.

"As he said, history does repeat itself. Right now it's time to learn from the mistakes being done, and try to do something better about that," said Matthew Johnson.

Eller says whether they were truthful or not, if the stereotypes in the 20/20 special ultimately promote a new vision for Eastern Kentucky's future, then it will be worth it.

Union College is also where Shawn Grimm, one of the four young people featured in the special, is now going to school.

The 20/20 report is also the topic of our political blog on under Neil's Notebook in our blogs section.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
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