HOPE speaker for Black History / Award Program illiam 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 coal miners. The University of Kentucky – where he was the founding president of the Black Students Union -- awarded Bill the BS in sociology in 1966; and, 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. Turner has focused his career on demographic and ethnographic studies and programmatic interventions among people of color in the Appalachian Region. Among the first to combine interests in the fields of African American and Appalachian Studies, Turner has published extensively in national newspapers, refereed 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, who said in 1990, “Bill knows more about black people in the mountains of the South than anyone in the world.” Over his four decades long career in higher education, Bill has held positions such as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Interim President, Kentucky State University, Vice President for Multicultural Affairs, University of Kentucky; and, Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies and Regional Ambassador at Berea College. At the time of his retirement in late 2017, Turner was Research Scientist Leader of the Social Systems and Allied Research unit in the Prairie View A&M University College of Agriculture and Human Sciences’ Cooperative Agricultural Research Center, which collected and analyzed data on underserved Texans, the economically insecure and long-term impoverished. He has served as a consultant for the Kellogg Foundation, the Salvation Army, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and other state and federal agencies and corporations for his expertise in the area of grassroots organizations and diversity and inclusion practices and strategic planning. Among the honors Turner has received: in 1994 the Christian Appalachian Project named him its “Person of the Year,” for his “untiring dedication to the people of Appalachia.” Notre Dame University named him a “Distinguished Alumni Exemplar” in 2006. In 2007, he was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame, and, in 2008, he was recognized by the Governor of Kentucky as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Citizen of the Year, for “advocating for the rights and expanded educational opportunities for people in Appalachian Kentucky.” In 2009, the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) honored Bill for a lifetime of service to the Appalachian region. The Williams|Brown Service Award – the highest honor bestowed by the organization –is given annually to an individual who has made exemplary contributions to Appalachia. In 2009, Turner was recommended by members of the Kentucky delegation in the US House of Representatives to President Obama to serve as Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Bill and his wife of 49 years, Vivian – retired President of the RJ Reynolds Foundation – live near their three adult children and four grandchildren in Houston.