Western Carolina University – Hunter Library publishes book reprint with stories from local black community

By Geoff Cantrell

Victoria A. Casey McDonald, author of “Just Over the Hill: Black Appalachians in Jackson County.”

“Just Over the Hill: Black Appalachians in Jackson County,” a decade-old book that tells the stories of local African Americans, is getting a second life, thanks to Western Carolina University.

Written by the late Victoria A. Casey McDonald, teacher, minister, and storyteller, the book features the stories of educators, soldiers, workers, ministers, and athletes from the community surrounding WCU.

The book, republished by University of North Carolina Press and distributed for WCU’s Hunter Library, will be available in bookstores starting this month. The new version includes a new foreword by Marie T. Cochran, writer, educator and founding curator of the Afrilachian Artist Project.

McDonald, who died in 2014, was an alumnus of WCU, having earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 1973 and her master’s degree in 1978.

“Originally published by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, ‘Just Over the Hill’ captures biographies and stories of members of the local African-American community, including the author’s great-grandmother, who was born in slavery,” said Heidi Buchanan, professor and researcher. and instructional librarian at the Hunter Library.

just over the hill

Buchanan said the reissue is the result of a collaboration with the author’s daughter, Faustine “Tina” McDonald.

“My mother’s work on African American history in western North Carolina, which is composed in all of her books, is a great learning and educational tool,” McDonald said. “Being able to reprint ‘Just Over The Hill’ is much needed in the community, which finds a younger generation as well as people moving here wanting and needing to know the history of the area.

“It excites me to know that people will see and understand how much the African American community has helped build the community they live in today.”

This is the third in a series of regional Hunter Library reprints, all funded by Thomas W. Ross Publishing Grants, which help establish sustainable publishing initiatives, including the reprinting of works exhausted. The previous two are “Twenty Years Hunting and Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains” by Samuel J. Hunnicutt and “Mountain Days: A Journal of Camping Experiences in the Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, 1914-1938” by Paul M. Fink.

“Just Over the Hill” is available for checkout at the Hunter Library and on sale wherever books are sold, including City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.