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Associate Professor
552 Hamilton Hall


BA The Ohio State University, 2005
MA University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007
PhD The Ohio State University, 2012

Research Interests

William Sturkey is an historian of the post-1865 United States who specializes in the history of race in the American South. Most of his research centers the experiences of working-class racial minorities. He teaches courses on Modern American History, Southern History, the Civil Rights Movement, and the History of America in the 1960s. His first book, To Write in the Light of Freedom, is a co-edited collection of newspapers, essays, and poems produced by African American Freedom School students during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. His second book, Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, is a biracial history of Southern Jim Crow that was published by Harvard University Press in March of 2019. Dr. Sturkey is currently working on a biography of the legendary Vietnam War hero Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez.

Dr. Sturkey works with graduate students in all fields of Modern United States History. He is currently advising the talented Jennifer Standish. Dr. Sturkey also serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and has previously served on faculty advisory committees for the Athletic Department, UNC Program in the Humanities, and Honor System. Dr. Sturkey is also an engaged public scholar who regularly delivers public lectures, appears in local and national media, and works with K-12 teachers.

Dr. Sturkey has been widely recognized for his scholarship, teaching, and service. He has won a number of major university awards including the Faculty Diversity Award, the Hettleman Prize for outstanding early career achievement, the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for outstanding engagement and service to the state of North Carolina.

Professor Sturkey is not currently accepting any new graduate student advisees.

Recent Public Engagements

Some Notable Publications

  • Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019). [Purchase Online]
  • “Race and Reconciliation on the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad,” Southern Cultures, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter 2018): 87-104
  • Co-editor with Jon Hale, To Write in the Light of Freedom: The Newspapers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2015). [Purchase Online]
  • “‘Crafts of Freedom:’ The Poor People’s Corporation and Working-Class African American Women’s Activism for Black Power,” The Journal of Mississippi History, Vol. LXXIV, No. 1 (Spring 2012): 25–60
  • “‘I Want to Become Part of History:’ Freedom Summer, Freedom Schools, and the Freedom News,” The Journal of African American History, Vol. 95, No. 3 & 4 (Summer/Fall 2010): 348–368, Special Issue on “Black Print Culture”

Graduate Students

Courses Taught (as schedule allows)

For current information about course offerings, click here.

  • History 89: First Year Seminar: Go Tell It On the Mountain: Black Life in the Fifties
  • History 128: American History since 1865
  • History 382: The History of the Civil Rights Movement
  • History 384: America in the 1960s
  • History 395: Race & Memory at UNC, Autumn 2019
  • History 398: History Research Seminar, “The American Icon” & “My Hometown”
  • History 671: Introduction to Public History, Spring 2021
  • History 728: Graduate Colloquium in U.S. History since 1900
  • History 870: Readings in African American History, Autumn 2019
  • History 902: Writing for Historians, Spring 2022