Welch, WV: Dr. William (Bill) H. Turner, author of The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black life in Appalachian Coal Towns will make a presentation onFebruary 6, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. at the Jack Caffrey Arts and Cultural Center. Free and open to the public, the program will be the kickoff event recognizing Black History Month in McDowell County. Sponsored by Race Matters, Inc., Loretta Young and MMC, the event will include remarks by the author, a book signing, and complimentary refreshments for attendees.
“Black history is much more than recalling traumas. Black History Month is about love, legacy, kinship, care and more,” said Dr. Turner.
His book has been described as an invaluable piece of Black Appalachian history that sheds light on the harsh historical realities of Black Appalachian life, while also envisioning a future of Appalachia in which Black communities and their stories are central.
Mayor of Welch, Harold McBride, Jr. is honored that the Jack Caffrey Center will be hosting this exceptional program. “The contributions of African Americans to the history of McDowell County and the coal mining industry are endless. We’ve incorporated this history into our Coaltown, USA narrative, and for those of us who are natives to McDowell County, I believe our shared legacy, combined with our unique heritage and experiences, is one of the many special things about our community. Having Dr. Turner visit Welch is an honor,” he said.
“I hope we can all take away perspective and understanding from this presentation and use it to continue building a thriving future Welch and all of Appalachia. I encourage everyone to attend this special event,” continued Mayor McBride.
The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black life in Appalachian Coal Towns has won several awards including the 2021 Individual Mountain Heritage Award and was nominated for the 2021 Weatherford Award for Non-Fiction. Dr. Turner was also a 2021 Inductee to the College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame at the University of Kentucky. He is a premier expert on the history, existence, and influence of Black people in America’s Appalachian region. Dr. Turner spent his professional career studying and working on behalf of marginalized communities and helping them create opportunities in the larger world, while not abandoning their important cultural ties.
The Pulitzer Prize winning author of Roots, Alex Haley, notably described Dr. Turner as the preeminent scholar on this important section of Appalachian culture. “Bill Turner knows more about Black life and culture in the mountains of the American South than anybody in the world.”
Dr. Turner earned a BS in Sociology from the University of Kentucky, his MS in Sociology from Notre Dame, his Ph.D. in Sociology & Anthropology from Notre Dame and did his Post-Doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. Among the first to combine interests in the fields of African American and Appalachian Studies, Dr. Turner has published extensively in national newspapers, academic journals, and books on the black experience in Appalachia.