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William Turner returns to UK to discuss ‘The Harlan Renaissance’ Oct. 17

By Jenny Wells-Hosley

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2022) — The University of Kentucky will welcome author and distinguished alumnus William H. Turner back to campus for a presentation on his latest, awarding-winning book, “The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns.” The presentation, titled “The Blues on Black Mountain: Stories from The Harlan Renaissance,” will take place at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, in the William T. Young Library’s UK Athletics Auditorium. A reception will follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Center, 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 thrilled to have Dr. Turner back on UK's 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 communities in Eastern Kentucky.”

“The Harlan Renaissance” is an intimate remembrance of kinship and community in Eastern Kentucky’s coal towns. Turner reconstructs Black life in the company towns in and around Harlan County during coal’s final postwar boom years, which built toward an enduring bust as the children of Black miners, like the author, left the region in search of better opportunities.

Earlier this year, “The Harlan Renaissance” won a Weatherford Award for nonfiction. Read more here.

Turner has spent most of his career studying and working to help marginalized communities create opportunities in the world without abandoning their cultural ties. He has produced groundbreaking research on African American communities in Appalachia. He has also studied economic systems and social structures in the urban South and burgeoning Latino communities in the Southwest. He co-edited the textbook Blacks in Appalachia and thematic essays on Black Appalachians in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.

Turner was born in Lynch, Kentucky, in Harlan County. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UK and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Notre Dame. He also attended the Foreign Affairs Scholars Program at Howard University and did postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. He also served as the vice president of multicultural affairs at 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 Asheville. 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.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.