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Video by Joel Cohen

Actor Robert Wisdom and Daily Yonder Publisher Dee Davis met in 1983 when Wisdom moved to the small town of Whitesburg, Kentucky, to help produce a conference on the interplay of media and democracy.

Wisdom called the experience of living in Whitesburg “one of the best years of my life.”

“I learned so much about a culture that from my place in [Washington] D.C. I thought would have never accepted me,” he said. “I got taken in by a whole, absolute range of people from the hollers down to the town.”

Wisdom is black, and Whitesburg has few black citizens. Currently less than 1% of the population is African American.

Wisdom said he was changed by the experience of “coming in contact with and being accepted by, and being challenged by, being a black man in Eastern Kentucky — in 1983. That feels like a long time ago now.”  

Wisdom is now in his 30th year of a professional acting career that has included roles in TV series such as “Ballers” and the critically acclaimed show “The Wire,” in which he played Baltimore Police Major Bunny Colvin.

Davis and Wisdom remained friends over the years, and Wisdom now serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Rural Strategies, which publishes the Daily Yonder.

Davis talked to Wisdom as part of the “Check on Your Neighbor” series, co-produced by the Rural Assembly and the Daily Yonder.