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Dr. Bill Turner to speak at HOPE's Black History & Awards program

By Tracey Edwards • Mar 1, 2018 at 4:50 PM

H.O.P.E. (Help Our Potential Evolve) will hold its annual Black History Month program on March 3 at the Renaissance Center in Kingsport.

The keynote speaker will be Dr.William H. Turner who has focused his career on demographic and ethnographic studies and programmatic interventions among people of color in the Appalachian region.

This year's event will be led by current youth leaders of H.O.P.E. and marks the group's 10-year anniversary. The night will also be a time to honor local volunteers who have given to the community through their work at H.O.P.E. The awards will include honors for this year's outstanding volunteers, as well as awards for volunteers who have served since the organization's start in 2008.

H.O.P.E., founded in 2008 by Stella Robinette, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization started to help youth from ages 11 to 19. The organization teaches participants the necessary life skills to become self-sufficient later in life. To help prepare them for future success, H.O.P.E. provides the opportunity for the youth to participate in college prep programs, a Dress for Success workshop, etiquette classes, banking classes, CPR classes, and gets them involved with other local businesses and charitable organizations.

According to Robinette, the organization focuses on improving the lives of area youth in order to prepare them for their futures. She says the program is set up to introduce them to living within their means in order to succeed. The organization also emphasizes giving back to others through what they have learned while in H.O.P.E.

The Black History and Awards program's guest speaker, Dr.William H. “Bill” Turner, was born and raised in Lynch-Harlan County, Kentucky, into a large coal-mining family; his grandfathers, father, three uncles and older brother were coal miners. Dr. Turner attended the University of Kentucky, where he was the founding president of the Black Students Union, and was awarded a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1966. After a short stint as field representative for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, he went on to study for the master’s and doctorate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Notre Dame University. He has held post-doctoral appointments through the National Academy of Sciences, sponsored by the Ford Foundation at the Center for the Study of Race Relations and Civil Rights at Duke University, the Robert R. Moton Center for Independent Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and at the National Center for Education Statistics, hosted by the Institute for Educational Leadership at George Washington University.

Among the first to combine interests in the fields of African American and Appalachian Studies, Turner has published extensively in national newspapers, academic journals and books on the black experience in Appalachia. He co-edited the path-breaking textbook, "Blacks in Appalachia." His thematic essay on Black Appalachians was published in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and he was an editorial advisor for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Turner also worked as research associate to "Roots" author Alex Haley.

The free event will also feature music by Laynette Alley and will begin with a reception with light refreshments in the Renaissance Center Atrium from 6-7 p.m., March 3. The program will follow at 7 p.m. in the Renaissance Center Theatre.

For more information on H.O.P.E., visit www.hopetricities.com or search for HOPE - Help Our Potential Evolve on Facebook.

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