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Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities to host April 5 book reading by Dr. Corley Dennison

ISSUED: 28 March 2023

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Audiences will explore issues of early 1960s race relations on Wednesday, April 5, when Dr. Corley Dennison will read from his first novel, “When the Center Held True.” The free event sponsored by Shepherd University’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.

Headshot of Corley Dennison smiling and looking at the camera with trees behind him.“When the Center Held True” is a coming-of-age story pitting a keen sense of social justice against entrenched white supremacy. The novel focuses on the experiences of a high school football player in Virginia at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of public schools.

“This is a book about growing up, finding values, and exploring the heart and soul of Appalachia,” said Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Center director.

Dennison worked in commercial and public radio before becoming a university professor. He was dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University, served as associate provost at Marshall, and vice chancellor for academic affairs with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

“Dennison’s contribution to higher education and to the state of West Virginia was extraordinary, and he continues to explore the values and causes he held dear as a teacher and administrator now through his writing,” Shurbutt said. “‘When the Center Held True’ is a story that you will not want to lay aside after you read the first page, and this program of reading and discussion will bring you a satisfying sense of nostalgia and respite from the vicissitudes of life.”

Four Seasons Books will have books for sale before and after the event, and the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities will sponsor a reception at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Shurbutt at or call her at 304-876-5207.

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