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AP looks at the Black Lives Matter conversation in rural Kentucky

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Reporting by AP’s Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, based in Louisville, Ky., added nuance and depth to our coverage of national protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor by defying stereotypes about Blacks living in Appalachia, and identifying reasons to hope for racial progress in the region.

As a Kentucky grand jury was weighing whether or not to charge police officers involved in the shooting of Taylor in her Louisville home, Hudspeth Blackburn began exploring the impact of the case on the often overlooked community of Black Appalachians. In a story that captured the complexity of multiple fault lines of ethnicity and class – including preconceived notions about white Appalachians – the Report for America journalist examined the perspective of young Black people living in the mountains who have found hope in the national reckoning on race.

The story gave readers everywhere a fresh perspective on a major national story and, as Deputy Managing Editor Noreen Gillespie put it, the reporting was “just as relatable from Kentucky as it is from anywhere else in the country.” With uncommon sensitivity for a newcomer to the region, Hudspeth Blackburn delivered a deep, timely exploration of the region.

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Demonstrators attend a Black Lives Matter rally in Whitesburg, eastern Kentucky, June 12, 2020. – Photo courtesy Oakley Fugate via AP
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