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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 Modern America who specializes in the history of race in the American South, with a particular interest in the histories 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 new project, tentatively titled To Be An American, which is a biography of the legendary Vietnam War hero Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez.

Dr. Sturkey works with graduate students in all fields of Modern American History. He is currently advising the talented Jennifer Standish and Laura Woods. Dr. Sturkey also serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and the UNC Program in the Humanities. He also serves an elected representative on the UNC Faculty Athletics Council. During the 2017-2018 academic year, he was named one of two faculty recipients of the university-wide UNC Diversity and Inclusion Award for “significant contribution, time and effort of Carolina community members towards advancing an inclusive climate for excellence in teaching, research, public service and academic endeavor.” Dr. Sturkey is also an engaged public scholar who regularly gives public lectures, appears in local and national media, and works with K-12 teachers.

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

Dr. Sturkey is not currently accepting any new advisees for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.

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 398: History Research Seminar, “The American Icon” & “My Hometown”
  • History 728: Graduate Colloquium in U.S. History since 1900