Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Great Voices Speaker Series Starts With Author

Turner+spoke+on+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+31.
Ella Bumgardner
Turner spoke on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Author and sociologist William H. Turner kicked off the Great Voices Speaker Series on Wednesday, Jan. 31, by speaking on his book “The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns.”

Alan Letton, the director of the Center for Economic and Community Development in Black Appalachia and an isolated communities visiting scholar, introduced the event. Letton explained the center is funding the series to bring great speakers into the university to interact with students and faculty by creating forums where they can make scholarship real.

Letton said, “Dr. Turner is the perfect guy to bring in. We have personal relationships with him, and the topic is very specific to the Appalachia region.”

Cicero Fain, assistant provost of inclusive excellence and a diversity, equity, and inclusion fellow at Marshall, introduced Turner, saying, “The primary purpose of bringing Turner here is that nobody embodies the scholarship, the deep-rooted connections to Black Appalachia, better than Dr. William Turner.”

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During the event, Turner told the story of how he grew up in Harlan, Kentucky, “where they acted like Black people did not exist,” he said. Between 1900-1940, there were nearly 150 thousand Black people that migrated from the South to pursue better work opportunities in the coal mines.

The title of his book, “The Harlan Renaissance,” is inspired by the Harlem Renaissance due to the migration experienced in Harlan, Kentucky.

Turner explained what an honor it was to be able to speak about his book in conjunction with Black History Month.

“What an honor when you get to speak about your work on Appalachia and, specifically, in terms of Black people in Appalachia, for a Black History Month program at Marshall, which was named for a person, John Marshall, who was a real friend of Black people,” Turner said. “That is not to forget it is taking place in the hometown of Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History Month.”

The event was sponsored by the Center for Economic and Community Development in Black Appalachia, the Carter G. Woodson Lyceum, the John Deaver Drinko Academy and Academic Affairs.

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