Cover for FAIN: Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story. Click for larger image

Black Huntington

An Appalachian Story

How African Americans thrived in a West Virginia city

By 1930, Huntington had become West Virginia's largest city. Its booming economy and relatively tolerant racial climate attracted African Americans from across Appalachia and the South. Prosperity gave these migrants political clout and spurred the formation of communities that defined black Huntington—factors that empowered blacks to confront institutionalized and industrial racism on the one hand and the white embrace of Jim Crow on the other.

Cicero M. Fain III illuminates the unique cultural identity and dynamic sense of accomplishment and purpose that transformed African American life in Huntington. Using interviews and untapped archival materials, Fain details the rise and consolidation of the black working class as it pursued, then fulfilled, its aspirations. He also reveals how African Americans developed a host of strategies—strong kin and social networks, institutional development, property ownership, and legal challenges—to defend their gains in the face of the white status quo.

Eye-opening and eloquent, Black Huntington makes visible another facet of the African American experience in Appalachia.

"This book not only broadens our understanding of the process of modernization in Appalachia by bringing black Appalachians onto the historical stage, it also casts light on the experience of development in Appalachia's urban places and demonstrates how an essentially rural people shaped their own meaningful communities in a new environment of both opportunity and repression."--Ronald D. Eller, author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945


Cicero M. Fain III is a professor of history at the College of Southern Maryland.

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