Herbert Reid: A celebration of his career

The Appalachian Studies Program will be celebrating the career of Herbert Reid on March 25, with the day’s events consisting of an afternoon panel discussion with Reid’s colleagues and an evening celebration of Reid’s accomplishments, including the publishing of his newest book, Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place, and Global Justice, co-authored by Betsy Taylor.

Recovering the Commons emphasizes the importance of knowledge from grassroots struggles in order to develop new social and political theories for engaging contemporary challenges in Appalachia and the global community, according to Reid. “Recovering the Commons represents an intellectual model that is desperately needed," said Mary Hufford, author of Waging Democracy in the Kingdom of Coal: OVEC and the Struggle for Social and Environmental Justice in Central Appalachia.

Reid has a long history of working to develop Appalachia, including his participation in the creation of the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center.

“In the early and mid-'70s, some of our students and quite a few faculty felt the time was right for such a center,” said Reid in a 2001 interview with Odyssey, the University of Kentucky Research Magazine. "One of my students and now a leading public interest lawyer in Lexington, Joe Childers, spent a lot of time trying to spark interest, as did UK sociologists Dwight Billings, John Stephenson and David Walls." With the help of these men, the Center was founded in 1977.

Reid became director of the Appalachian Center in 2000 and has served as a member of the Appalachian Studies faculty, bringing to both his practical experience from researching in Appalachia. As a young professor of political studies, Reid attributes summer teaching fellowships as key to him gaining valuable field experience.

 “You can learn much from informal "seminars" with Joe Begley, Aloma Burke, Myles Horton, Teri Blanton, and Larry Gibson -- just to mention a few I've gotten to know over several years,” said Reid. In order for young people to become contributing members to democracy, developing “historical consciousness” is crucial and can be cultivated through regional experiences in specific communities, according to Reid. “We owe more to our places than most of us are made aware.  But we also need a critical imagination of these places to enable the best they have to offer.”

Taylor and Reid were also instrumental in bringing the Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship to UK, which united faculty and research connected to Appalachian Studies and the Committee on Social Theory. As part of the fellowship, campus seminars offered students valuable social context.

“It brought to campus activists and scholar-activists from Appalachia and from Global South countries such as India and Nigeria. I remember well how campus seminars were enlivened and enlightened by contributions from (just to mention a few participants), Susan Williams from Highlander Center, Joan Robinette from Harlan county, Jenks Okwori from Nigeria, and Ananta Kumar Giri from India,” said Reid.

The UK Appalachian Studies program is important to the future of Appalachian and our global society, according to Reid, and should be supported.

“The UK community still needs a strong Appalachian Studies faculty and program. What some writers call "eco-equity" issues may well determine the future of our planet.”

For more specific information on the March 25th celebration of Herbert Reid, call (859)257-4852 or visit our events calendar.