“I love talking about things that people don’t want to talk about, and this is a touchy subject,” McDaniel says. “Nonetheless, we need to be comfortable enough with each other to have these talks.”
Of black-led theater, McDaniel says, “People want it and people crave it. I think we need it here. You can go to the big cities and see it any time — the big cities are spoiled. Let’s spoil each other here.”
Above and beyond being a writer, Charles Blount sees himself as an African-American writer and part of a tradition that is “always about sharing, sacrificing and standing for what you believe in, and knowing that you might have to be the one to step up and do it.”
“Anybody can write, but to choose it as a profession? That’s a hard economic choice,” poet Glenis Redmond muses. “I think people were making those choices, no matter what, but it was harder choice in the mountains.”
“In a lot of places in the United States, you can still get a degree in English literature and not have to study any people of color,” says poet, author and educator Frank X Walker.
McDaniel has also published two books, including the 2014 poetry and short-story hybrid Misty’s Blues, and is currently at work on a novel. “My community, the African-American community, has been supportive,” she says. “You have to build up your fan base — you have to leave your readers wanting more.”