LEXINGTON, Kentucky (October 3, 2022) — This month, the University of Kentucky will welcome author and distinguished alumnus William H. Turner, Ph.D., back to campus for a presentation of his latest award-winning book, “The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns.”
The presentation, titled “The Blues on Black Mountain: Stories from Harlan’s Renaissance,” will take place at 5 p.m. on Monday, October 17 in the United Kingdom Athletics Auditorium at the William T. Young Library. A reception will follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Center, located at 624 Maxwelton Court on campus.
The event is co-sponsored by the UK Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program, the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, the Gaines Center for the Humanities and the Department of Sociology.
“We are delighted to have Dr Turner returning to the UK campus,” said Kathryn Engle, director of the UK Appalachian Center. “He is a pioneer in Appalachian studies and his new book ‘The Harlan Renaissance’ is an important contribution to understanding the complexities of eastern Kentucky communities.”
“The Harlan Renaissance” is an intimate memory of kinship and community in the mining towns of Eastern Kentucky. Turner reconstructs black life in company towns in and around Harlan County during the final years of the post-war coal boom, which turned into a lasting collapse as the children of black miners, such as the author, were leaving the region in search of better opportunities.
Earlier this year, “The Harlan Renaissance” won a Weatherford Award for Non-Fiction. Learn more here.
Turner has spent most of her career studying and working to help marginalized communities create opportunity in the world without abandoning their cultural ties. He produced groundbreaking research on African-American communities in Appalachia. He has also studied economic systems and social structures in the urban South and the burgeoning Latin American communities in the Southwest. He has co-edited the textbook Blacks in Appalachia and topical essays on Black Appalachia in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.
Turner was born in Lynch, Kentucky, in Harlan County. He earned a BA in Sociology from the UK and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. He also completed Howard University’s Foreign Affairs Scholars Program and did postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. He was also Vice President of Multicultural Affairs in the UK. The Appalachian Studies Association honored him for a lifetime of service to the region and he was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2020 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina in Ashville. In 2021 he was inducted into the UK College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.
Copies of “The Harlan Renaissance” will be available for purchase at the event.