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King University News :: Author William H. Turner to Speak at King University and Bristol Public Library Jan. 19

BRISTOL, Tenn., Jan. 5, 2015 – On Jan. 19, 2015, King University and the Buechner Institute will welcome author William H. Turner as a speaker in the 2014-15 Buechner Institute Lecture Series. Turner will start his day by speaking in King University’s Memorial Chapel at 9:15 a.m., in Bristol, Tenn. He will also speak on “The Disneyfication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” at the Bristol Public Library in Bristol, Tenn., at 7 p.m. the same evening. The event is co-sponsored by the Bristol Herald Courier and Virginia Highlands Community College.

“Dr. William Turner writes authoritatively about the historical experiences of African Americans in Appalachia, and has contributed greatly to American conversations about race, justice, and culture,” said Dr. Shannon Harris, coordinator for the Buechner Institute. “We look forward to his intriguingly entitled presentation in January. Of race, Dr. Turner writes: ‘Racism -- and its linked effects and results -- saturates the entire American social fabric with the consequence of what author Wendell Berry titled one of his best books -- ’The Hidden Wound.’ Our collective neurosis, this invisible injury -- a disorder which many refuse to acknowledge -- has a clear resulting condition that affects all of us.’”

Turner will present a timely interpretation on how Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy have been appropriated in American culture and history. He grew up in the town of Lynch in eastern Kentucky, where his father and grandfather were coal miners. He has combined his personal and professional experience and focused on a career in sociology with an emphasis on African Americans in the Appalachian Mountains.

For nearly three decades, Turner has contributed to the understanding of race and American culture through his teaching, publications, lectures, newspaper editorials, media consulting, and mentoring. He co-edited the path-breaking textbook “Blacks in Appalachia,” published by the University Press of Kentucky in 1984. The focus of the textbook rests on studies of black communities, white and black relationships, and political issues in the coal mining industry. It also includes a section on oral accounts of black experiences and an analysis of black Appalachian demography.

Turner was also a research assistant to “Roots” author Alex Haley for a decade and served both as dean of Art Sciences and as interim president of Kentucky State University. The Appalachian Studies Association honored him for a lifetime of service to the Appalachian region. Until 2012, Turner served as distinguished professor of Appalachian Studies and regional ambassador at Berea College. At present, Turner is a research professor at Prairie View AM University in Texas.

William H. Turner will speak on “The Disneyfication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” in King University’s Memorial Chapel at 9:15 a.m. in Bristol, Tenn., and again that evening at 7 p.m. at the Bristol Public Library in Bristol, Tenn. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Shannon Harris at or 423-652-4836. All are welcome.


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