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African American Miners and Migrants

The Eastern Kentucky Social Club

The history of the Eastern Kentucky Social Club’s past and present bring the hidden aspects of Appalachian history and culture to life

Thomas E. Wagner and Phillip J. Obermiller's African American Miners and Migrants documents the lives of Eastern Kentucky Social Club (EKSC) members, a group of black Appalachians who left the eastern Kentucky coalfields and their coal company hometowns in Harlan County.

Bound together by segregation, the inherent dangers of mining, and coal company paternalism, it might seem that black miners and mountaineers would be eager to forget their past. Instead, members of the EKSC have chosen to celebrate their Harlan County roots. African American Miners and Migrants uses historical and archival research and extensive personal interviews to explore their reasons and the ties that still bind them to eastern Kentucky. The book also examines life in the model coal towns of Benham and Lynch in the context of Progressive Era policies, the practice of welfare capitalism, and the contemporary national trend of building corporate towns and planned communities.

Thomas E. Wagner is University Professor Emeritus of Planning and Urban Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He is coauthor (with Phillip J. Obermiller) of Valuing Our Past, Creating Our Future: The Founding of the Urban Appalachian Council and coeditor (with Obermiller and E. Bruce Tucker) of Appalachian Odyssey: Historical Perspectives on the Great Migration. Phillip J. Obermiller is a visiting scholar at the University of Cincinnati's School of Planning, and a Center Fellow at the University of Kentucky's Appalachian Center. In addition to his work with Wagner, he is coeditor (with Kathryn M. Borman) of From Mountain to Metropolis: Appalachian Migrants in American Cities and of the fourth edition of Appalachia: Social Context Past and Present(with Michael E. Maloney). William H. Turner is a member of the EKSC, president of Turner Associates in Winston-Salem, N.C., a freelance writer, and interim president of Kentucky State University. He holds Ph.D. in sociology and anthropology and was research associate to Alex Haley for ten years.

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