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The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns by William H. Turner

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The title of this book makes the point that not only did African Americans experience a renaissance in New York City’s Harlem in the 1920s, but that a kind of renaissance occurred in Lynch, Kentucky,  in Harlan County, in the 1950s. This book is the memoir of William Turner,  a Black man who grew up there during that time. Turner earned a PhD in sociology from Notre Dame, and when this sociologist writes a memoir, it will be full of sociological insights, especially considering that his field within sociology is Black Appalachia. “A warm and insightful memoir of Black life in Appalachia’s coal camps that offers a bounty of correctives to the persistent myth that all mountain people are white and all poverty is self-made.” Elizabeth Catte. Dr. Turner is a former Interim President of Kentucky State University and a Vice-president at the University of Kentucky. He also taught at Winston-Salem State University and Berea College and currently teaches at Prairie View A & M University. Since Turner co-edited Blacks in Appalachia with the late Ed Cabbell in 1985, this is his first book-length publication. To say that it has been eagerly anticipated for some time is an understatement.

Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2021. 362 pages with an Index, Notes, and a Foreword by Loyal Jones. Trade paperback.