Myya Helm

Myya Helm is not the first Black woman to be a winner of the prestigious British Marshall Scholarship. She may, however, be the first Black, Appalachian woman studying Black Marxism and Appalachian labor movements to win.

Helm is only the fourth student from West Virginia University to be awarded the honor.

Helm, a former WVU student and former researcher for the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy claims many identities.

“I am a Black, proud, queer woman,” Helm said. She is also a West Virginian, which surprises many people. Helm said when is traveling outside of Appalachia, people are surprised to learn where she is from. It is as if outsiders do not expect Black women to live in West Virginia, let alone be proud of that fact.

Smiling woman with red hair, sitting outside

An avid traveler, Helm has taught English in other countries, participated in several study abroad trips and plans to pursue a graduate degree in Wales, where she will continue to study the laborious history of Black coal miners.

Helm said that she is very aware of her many identities while she is both inside and outside of the region.

“People try to separate my Appalachianess from Blackness, and you just can’t.”

— Myya Helm