Mitzi Sinnott

Black Gold in Appalachia – Their Footsteps, Our Treasure

This past October, I received a call from Dr. Alicestyne Turley, Director of the Carter G. Woodson Center at Berea College, “Mitzi I’d like to bring about 20 of my students from my African Americans in Appalachia course to your hometown for a tour!” I thought, “a tour of what?!”

Like most small towns in Appalachia, my hometown is doing it’s best to reinvent itself since the slow death of the coal and steel industries. Sad to say, many feel we don’t have much left, yet a few are collaborating to find new solutions to problems and visioning a new way of existing that respects our past yet creating a better future.

Dr. Turley continued, “Woodson spent a lot of time in your birth town of Huntington WV.” I said to her, “Growing up here, I had no idea who Carter G. Woodson was, sadly it wasn’t until I moved to New York City as a young adult that I first heard his name. We’re nottaught that the Father of Black History Month moved here from Virginia with his family to find work and received his high school diploma.”

Not only did Carter G. Woodson receive his diploma in Huntington, but he later came back after time spent at Berea College, and became the principal of our Frederick Douglas School, where he was once educated. It’s unbelievable to me that folks (we say that in WV) here let the school be torn down. They say some tried to stop the demolition, apparently there wasn’t a large enough group who voiced the value of maintaining such a building.

With disappointment and frustration surrounding my heart, my mind started to race, “How could we have let such important influence dissolve into the river (the Ohio River to be exact)!? The Frederick Douglas school has been torn down! Every child up and down this Ohio River Valley should be taught that the Father of Black History lived and worked in the area! Shouldn’t everyone here, African American, white, and brown wear this truth proudly in our hats!?”

I asked Dr. Turley “please give me some time to find out what kind of a tour I can organize that might be of value to you and your students.”

I was compelled to host a tour for the students! Berea College has been so good to me, each time I’ve performed and been a keynote speaker on campus. Like an archeologist I started my dig calling every African American elder I knew;

Me: Somebody’s got to know about Dr. Woodson’s time in Huntington?

Elder 1: He was the principal of the old Frederick Douglas school. They tore that down, but there’s a statue over on Hal Greer Blvd.

Me: A statue is all we have left?! I can’t have them come just to see a statue.

Elder 2: My Mom remembers Carter G, she said he was a small man, serious, not very friendly, I guess he was so focused on his mission, he didn’t care to socialize much…

Me: Can you imagine during that time the effort it would take to bring Negro History Week into existence? That’s serious stuff.

My most important excavation, connecting with Professor and journalist Burnis Morris head of the Carter G. Woodson Lyceum at Marshall University in Huntington. I had no idea Huntington housed a lyceum! Within minutes of talking with him, I learned that a few local people understood Dr. Woodson’s value and gone to great lengths to preserve some of his memory. Karen Nance a historian and preservationist (see photo) is now the current owner of the Barnett Building on 6th Avenue in Huntington. The Barnett Building was built to be the first African America Hospital in West Virginia. Carter G. Woodson’s family owned it. I also learned that the creator of the CLIO on-line history walking tour system lives in Huntington. Clio has a specific African American history component. Additionally, David Harris, a local citizen and treasurer of Huntington’s Carter G. Woodson Group does performances as Woodson during Black History Month.

“Hmmm” I could see a tour coming together. Dr. Turley and Morris and I fleshed out what was to be one of the most inspiring moments I’ve ever experienced in my hometown.

We started Friday evening, October 6, at the Marshall Café with City Council Member Sandra Clements joining me in welcoming our guests. She shared her own family’s knowledge of Woodson (see photo above). Saturday morning started with a lecture with Burnis Morris, a presentation by David Harris, and Karen Nance’s orientation of the migration of Woodson’s family to Huntington in preparation of our tour of the Barnett Building which she currently owns. As each person presented their knowledge of Woodson, our Berea guests were amazed, so much of his and his family’s story in Huntington is missing from national books. After having some of the best peach cobbler at Buzzy’s Café (see photo below), we walked 2 blocks to see the Woodson’s statue (see photo below) and the new Frederick school. We boarded the bus, off to the Barnett building. What a treat!

The Barnett Building (see photos and video) has not been renovated since the early 1900s. Our guests and myself felt like we were taking a ghost walk back in time. There were suites for hospital guests, including a bathroom. The old tiles still there, the impression of tubs still on the floor. A desk still in the front space where an administrator must have done their work. Our guests agreed that the nervous walk up the fire stair case was worth it to see this historical space. Mrs. Nance shared an article with us, featuring the Guthrie Family, a prominent white family in town that owned a hospital, donation of the first shadow-proof chandelier to the Barnett hospital. Now with the new chandelier patients could be treated at all hours of the night. She also shared that Barnett Hospital had a “zero infection” rate. This was unheard of, not even the white hospitals in the region could boast of having “no infection.” This rating means, Barnett was superior. African Americans came from around the country to train there.

Lunchtime on our tour, the new president of Marshall University Dr. Jerome Gilbert hosted us for lunch. After lunch, Marshall’s Dr. Monica Brooks of the Drinko Library hosted a session on the CLIO system.

4 p.m. we were filled with stories of Carter G. Woodson’s life, of local people who’ve overcome limited resources and expectations, building hospitals, directing schools, and inspiring our nation to take time to honor the many contributions African Americans have made to make this nation great! We asked our guests, if they wanted to continue with the bus tour to Burlington Ohio, just across the Ohio river to see a few more of Woodson heritage sites. Most responded, “We’re overwhelmed with the information we’ve received today, we’d like to take some time to reflect and consider how this will affect our thesis and final projects.”

We ended the tour at Marshall’s student union, where Dr. Turley asked each student to speak on their thesis statements and the edits they plan to make.

In closing, I asked if each student would share some thoughts on what they’re thinking and feeling from this tour. My heart was full from their comments, especially one young man who said, “Who am I to lose motivation, think my life is hard… being here and walking in the first African American Hospital in West Virginia. Incredible. I need to step-up my game!”

It was an incredible opportunity for me to arrange this tour for our guests and community members. Everyone shined that day. I know there’s more to come from this, Huntington WV should be a destination for African American History. There’s something very special about us on this Ohio River. Black, white and brown folk on the Mason-Dixon Line. The space, the place where free-slaves, Natives and whites co-existed in a way that was impossible in the South. This trip confirmed that so many important stories of over-coming, of brilliance have been left out of our text books, and been destroyed… our future together on this planet depends on us allowing each voice, each success to be honored.

I am committed to bringing true stories to those who need to hear them, and working within my community to rectify our past and create a new space where we walk truthfully in our history and live our future. There’s an amazing African American history in every town in America. All Americans can be inspired by it. If you know this already good, and if it’s not apparent now, please go excavate yours!


About the Author

Named in the “Top 5 Best Diversity Speakers in America,” by Campus Activities Magazine performance artist, activist, and educator, Mitzi Sinnott presented her unique family saga “SNAPSHOT: a true story of love interrupted by invasion,” featured repeatedly on PBS nationwide, and on stage in South Africa, Scotland, Sweden, Brooklyn, and campuses across America. SNAPSHOT is the true-life quest of a mixed-race daughter from Central Appalachia who eventually finds her Vietnam Veteran father suffering in Hawaii.

Audience feedback affirms her story has transformative power which she incorporates into her keynote presentations, campus workshops and strategic planning efforts, using story-telling to reveal, connect and challenge.

Mitzi’s personally familiar with the complexities of racial identity, mental illness, and the legacy of war. She is a champion of authentic conversation who effortlessly and respectfully navigates difficult topics, making her very effective on college campuses and why she is a sought-after keynote speaker for groups like Marshall University’s Women of Color Luncheon, St. Thomas University’s Leadership Institute, The National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, AFLV West, and APCA National Conference.

Currently Mitzi’s company All Here Together Productions utilizes her expertise to convene conversations about race and class across industries and interests, building more tolerant communities, learning from the past, re-imagining our future, one story at a time. This is her life’s purpose, creating community from strangers.

Would you like to learn more about Mitzi, See the variety of programs she has to offer, or find out how you can book her for your event? Click here!

Intersectional Feminism – By Dr. Megan Stubbs

From ‘Me Too” to ‘Ask Her More’ and ‘Don’t tell me to smile’, its clear that the current climate has feminism at the forefront. While these initiatives and more are starting very important conversations, it is important to note that when we say we are fighting for equality for women, that it truly means all women.

When using the term ‘women’ it is imperative that we look at marginalized populations, who incidentally are the ones who need feminism the most. Women, referring to gender, but are the challenges the same of a white woman vs a black woman? What about a straight woman versus a lesbian woman? What about a white lesbian high school graduate vs a straight Latina woman with a masters degree?

When taking into account all of the nuances that encompass differences women have in society, we are being intersectional. Widening our view on these important distinctions helps us on our way to practicing intersectional feminism. Universalizing the claims of relatively privileged women can often take away or even silence those in marginalized populations.

So if you are really into feminism, see how intersectional feminism fits into your world and see if you need to make any adjustments.


Holding degrees in Human Sexuality and Biology, Dr. Megan Stubbs is an energetic multi-media savvy Sexologist. She often hosts seminars, appears on television, speaks on radio and writes for many online and print publications such as Women’s Lifestyle Magazine and Playboy; and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, AskMen, Bustle, Refinery 29 and more! She is mindful of inclusion and brings a sensitivity to ethnic diversity rooted in her own complex heritage. Her programming is designed to entertain and educate with actionable steps and information the participants can use as soon as they leave!


Tuesday Tunes – Tana Matz

Tana Matz is an up and coming singer/songwriter in the Cincinnati area. She knew she had a love for music at a young age, but she is now putting those dreams of hers into action.

With a country and pop mesh, Tana brings a cheery tune out of Cincinnati and I’m excited to hear more from her.” – Infinity Beats Music

You can follow her exciting career by liking her Facebook Page.

For booking information please click here.



We are attending APCA Spring Regional Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania!

We’ve got lots of amazing talent at APCA!

Check out the schedule:

————Friday, March 16th ———————-

SOHO Kings

Showcase time: 12:00pm

Location: Blue Room

Nash Fung

Showcase: 6:00pm

Location: Blue room

Face Off – BATSU!

Showcase: 9:30pm

Location: Red Room

————————–Saturday, March 17th——————-

Matthew Shapiro

Showcase: 3:30Pm

Location: Red Room

Joshua Fredenburg

TWO Ed Sessions:

10:00 am – Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Are You Emotionally Fit?

11:00 am – Are You Ready for the Future? Leading a Multicultural, Diverse, and Inclusive Team!

Can’t wait to see everyone there – it’s going to be so much fun!


Please come by booths 22-25 and say hello – we’re waiting with a smile, and a phone to add to our SnapChat story.

Tuesday Tunes – Roots of Creation

Whether on the festival circuit, performing at jam favorites like Gathering of The Vibes, Wakarusa, Camp Bisco, and Closer to the Sun, or sharing the stage at sold out shows with some of their diverse influences including Slightly Stoopid, The Wailers, Fishbone, and Michael Franti, reggae/rock/dubtronica band Roots of Creation (RoC) offer up a high-energy, infectious experience.

“From addictive reggae pop songs to consciously charged roots rhythms and berzerk electronic improvisations, the grace and precision with which Roots of Creation execute their bass-heavy works is overwhelming. Their roots are tinged with rock, their rock brushed with electronica, and they’re as likely to dash off into a 10-minute guitar-led groove as they are to perform righteous vocal songs that resonate like the roots-rock classics of old.” — Homegrown Music Network

To see what they are up to be sure to check out their Facebook page.

For booking information please click here.

Artist Highlight – Xclusive

Have you had the chance to experience a performance by Xclusive? If not, you’re truly missing out. Through hip-hop/anime dance, audience interaction, and stand up comedy, Xclusive DELIVERS and keeps his fans wanting more!

“Hysterical – he kept the audience laughing the whole time!”  – Simmons College

Be sure to like his Facebook Page to keep up-to-date will all the awesome stuff he is up to. And if you’re interested in booked you can click here.

Artist Highlight – Snap Boogie

Snap Boogie’s Show is a high energy combination of multi disciplinary dance, pop and lock, tap dance, audience participation, comedy, and crazy physical stunts. This show can be performed indoors or outdoors. On a stage with full production or as a pop-up format to reinvigorate crowds at universities, sporting events, festivals, fairs, corporate and special events.

“Electrifying!” – America’s Got Talent

Be sure to like his Facebook Page to keep up with his exciting career, and if you’re interested in booking him for a show you can click here.


Complete Orientation Programming Guide

“Complete Orientation Programming” Guide, Our Custom Approach to OWeek, Welcome Week & Beyond

Metropolis Management has the people and activities you need to pull off the BEST orientation your campus has ever experienced!!

Below is our suggestions for a first day that will knock it out of the park. Call and we can talk through all the options to meet your specific needs. There is so much to consider….

Let us do the work.
You can take all the credit, we don’t mind.

  • Ice Breakers
  • OL/RA Training
  • Parent Programs
  • Hypnotists
  • Music Acts
  • Diversity Speakers
  • TItle IX
  • Leadership
  • Student Success Workshops
  • Increase Retention

Ready to take your Orientation, Welcome Week and Fall to the next level? Call 877-536-5374 or contact us today

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