"The Appalachian Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement in the USA" – Talk by William H. Turner on Feb. 22 at UNC Asheville

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Appalachian studies scholar William H. Turner will discuss the local and regional roots of the Civil Rights Movement in a free public talk at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall.

Turner’s talk, The Appalachian Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement in the USA, will explore several key spaces, places, people and events in Appalachia that sparked and nourished the movement, and to focus locally, he will draw upon the 2016 master’s thesis, The Civil Rights Movement in Asheville, N.C., by Patrick S. Parker at Appalachian State University.

Turner was a research associate to Alex Haley, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner Roots, and was described by Haley as the man who “knows more about black people in the mountains of the American South than anyone in the world.”

Now on the faculty at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, Turner is research scientist leader of the university’s Social Systems and Allied Research unit, established in 2015 to bring together the analytics on underserved groups of Texans including the economically insecure and long-term impoverished.

A native of Harlan County, Kentucky, Turner earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology and anthropology at Notre Dame University. He then held post-doctoral appointments through the National Academy of Sciences, sponsored by the Ford Foundation at the Center for the Study of Civil Rights and Race Relations at Duke University; the Robert R. Moton Center for Independent Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; and the National Center for Education Statistics, hosted by the Institute for Educational Leadership at The George Washington University. 

Turner was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2007 and was given Kentucky’s Martin Luther King Jr. Citizenship Award. In 2009, the Appalachian Studies Association gave Turner its highest honor – the Cratis D. Williams/James S. Brown Service Award.

For more information, contact Rene Smyle in UNC Asheville’s Department of History at rsmyle@unca.edu or 828.251.6415.