cover of book

The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns
by William H. Turner
West Virginia University Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-952271-21-2 | eISBN: 978-1-952271-22-9 | Cloth: 978-1-952271-20-5
Library of Congress Classification E185.912.T87 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 976.9154

Weatherford Award Winner, Nonfiction

A personal remembrance from the preeminent chronicler of Black life in Appalachia.

The Harlan Renaissance is an intimate remembrance of kinship and community in eastern Kentucky’s coal towns written by one of the luminaries of Appalachian studies, William Turner. 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.

The Harlan Renaissance invites readers into what might be an unfamiliar Appalachia: one studded by large and vibrant Black communities, where families took the pulse of the nation through magazines like Jet and Ebony and through the news that traveled within Black churches, schools, and restaurants. Difficult choices for the future were made as parents considered the unpredictable nature of Appalachia’s economic realities alongside the unpredictable nature of a national movement toward civil rights.

Unfolding through layers of sociological insight and oral history, The Harlan Renaissance centers the sympathetic perspectives and critical eye of a master narrator of Black life.
Nearby on shelf for United States / Elements in the population / Afro-Americans: