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Visiting Diversity Scholar honored by the West Virginia Library Association

Dr. Cicero Fain III, a Visiting Diversity Scholar at Marshall University, was presented the West Virginia Literary Merit award from the West Virginia Library Association for his book, Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story, which the association described as “an outstanding publication that contributes to West Virginia or Appalachian literature.”

Fain, a fourth-generation Black Huntingtonian, is a visiting professor at Marshall this academic year, teaching courses on African American history and culture, and holds a position as a professor at the College of Southern Maryland. Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story was published in 2019 by the University of Illinois Press.

Fain received the Carter G. Woodson Fellowship from Marshall University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University.

Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story is one of the few books that has investigated the Black story in Huntington,” the West Virginia Library Association said in its announcement about the award. “There have been few studies on West Virginia’s Black population and, sadly, this represents a gap in the capacity we have to tell the full narrative of West Virginia. Dr. Fain’s book helps fill that gap.

“Concentrating on the African-American experience in the early years of the city of Huntington, Dr. Fain paints a picture of a community struggling to find its identity and voice in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but one which eventually develops institutions and social practices which enable it to overcome the inherent racism of the era. As both a significant work of regional and state history, Dr. Fain’s book also helps us to contextualize the African-American experience at the national level.”

Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story was Fain’s first book. He also has been a contributing historian to “It’s Time to Talk about West Virginia’s Slaves,” by Nicholas Brumfield, (in Expatalachians, January 29, 2019), as well as a reviewer for “The African Blood Brotherhood in the West Virginia Coalfields,” (in West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies, April 2018)  and a reviewer of “Reading ‘The Storer Record:’ Education, Race, and John Brown in the Storer College Newspaper,” (in West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies, January 2017).

The West Virginia Library Association presented awards at the 2021 Annual Conference this fall, held at Glade Springs Resort and Conference Center in Daniels, West Virginia.