Getting to Know Black Huntington — HLC Quality Initiative Kickoff


Melanie Whitt

Dr. Cicero Fain, author of “Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story”

Taylor Isaac, Reporter

How Black history is intrinsic to the city of Huntington’s story was the discussion of the inaugural lecture for the Marshall University’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Quality Initiative: “Building a Stronger and More Inclusive Marshall Community.” 

As the university’s visiting diversity scholar and a fourth generation Huntingtonian, Dr. Cicero Fain III says the time has come for the community to recognize, honor, and celebrate the Black men and women that built Huntington into the vibrant powerhouse it stands as  today. 

Over a dozen men and women—ranging from Hal Greer to Dr. Carter G. Woodson—have held a significant role in the development of Huntington as a regional socio-cultural epicenter for Black people explained Fain. 

“These are, to me, models that I could emulate,” Fain said.“They weren’t some distant being on a foreign planet. These are the people that were in my community, in my neighborhood, that knew my family. This is a personal journey for me to pay homage to these people.”

Fain discussed the efforts of these individuals and more during his lecture “Getting to Know Black Huntington.” The event took place on Tuesday, Aug. 30, in Drinko Library’s Atrium. The lecture welcomed students, staff and community members. 

Fain was chosen to speak after his book “Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story,” was selected by HLC’s book selection initiative as the fall title for campus-wide reading. The book highlights the historical contributions of other Black residents to the rise of Huntington during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

“To have this book take on wings the way it has has been remarkable for me. I never thought a story about Black people in a small community from a small state would even matter,” Fain said.

Additionally, the Tri-State African American Heritage Center announced that they aspire to open in February 2026 on the 100th anniversary of Black History Week. The lecture concluded with a brief statement from Mary Beth Reynolds—associate vice president of assessment and quality initiatives.

“Dr. Fain is a highly respected scholar who has documented the contributions of the African American Community to Huntington, and we are fortunate that he continues to share his knowledge, vision and expertise with Marshall University and the surrounding community,” Reynolds said.

The HLC Quality Initiative will continue this year’s theme “Complexities of Identity” with future lectures and programming planned throughout the fall 2022 semester. This plan follows HLC’s Open Pathways Accreditation Model, which must be completed during the latter part of its 10-year accreditation process.