Dr. Alicestyne Turley, PhD

2022 National Association of Black Storytellers: Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowship

Dr. Alicestyne Turley, PhD

Recipient Information


Clay City, Kentucky

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowships

Grant Amount


Born in Hazard, Kentucky, prior to becoming an educator and public historian, Dr. Turley has worked in law enforcement, as a community organizer, and was the first African American administrator for the City of Toledo’s first woman mayor, Donna Owens. Also, the founding Director of the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education at Berea College, Dr. Turley is a long-time scholar of history, political science, sociology and anthropology. She obtained a master’s degree from Mississippi State University in public policy and from the University of Kentucky in American History, where she remained and graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in American History. During that time, she also became the founding director of the Underground Railroad Research Institute at Georgetown College. Dr. Turley is director of Freedom Stories: Unearthing the Black Heritage of Appalachia at the International Storytelling Center.

Dr. Alicestyne Turley, PhD on her roots in Black Appalachian storytelling:

The roots of my Black Appalachian Storytelling is based on my eastern Kentucky heritage, family history and academic career. This year, my family celebrated our 158th "Emancipation Saturday" Family Reunion as residents of eastern Kentucky. Storytelling has always been a major part of my family history, from my grandmother to my father. The primary way my father employed storytelling was as a form of disciplining, at the time, his only daughter. He never wanted to spank or strike me as others in the family implored him to do. However, he would often take me aside usually on long walks, and tell me stories of what happens to disobedient or mischievous little girls who did not listen to the wise council of their parents. Even though frightening at the time, looking back, I now realize it was my father's version of "scaring me straight," to obtain a more positive or desired behavioral outcome.

Storytelling is as American as apple pie, and very much a part of African American and Appalachian life, culture and community. I am excited and feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the professional staff of the International Storytelling Center and professional Storytellers from around the country, to share African American Freedom Stories with other storytellers and the nation.