Skip navigation

Sturkey To Discuss Book on Hattiesburg at Oct. 12 University Forum

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 10:30am | By: David Tisdale

Dr. William SturkeyDr. William Sturkey, an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and author of the award-winning book, Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, will be the guest speaker for The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) University Forum Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free.

Dr. Sturkey’s address, co-sponsored in part by Twin Forks Rising Community Development Corporation, will also be available online. Visit for updates on online access.

Dr. Sturkey’s scholarship examines race in the American South in the post-Civil War period. Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White is a sweeping biracial history of Hattiesburg during the Jim Crow era, for which Dr. Sturkey conducted research on in 2013 while a visiting faculty member in the USM History program.

“I had the pleasure of working with William Sturkey when he was a visiting professor at Southern Miss,” said Dr. Andrew Haley, director of University Forum. “Dr. Sturkey sees history—including our history here in Hattiesburg—as shaped by the choices we make.  His brilliant study of how racism transformed both Black and white Hattiesburg not only provides insight into the past, but also reminds us that we can only grow in the future when we all have an equal stake in our community.”

Hattiesburg book coverIn 2020, Hattiesburg won the Zócalo Public Square Book Prize. Currently, Dr. Sturkey is working on a biography of Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, a Vietnam war hero.

“William Sturkey's visit to campus next week is a welcomed and long overdue opportunity for Southern Miss and the larger community to discover Hattiesburg's challenging and important history,” said Dr. Kevin Greene, director of USM’s Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. “Few college towns have had the chance to have a gifted historian craft such an important story of their city with such rich detail.

“In many ways, Sturkey has helped bridge two juxtaposed communities—USM and Hattiesburg's Black community. To tell this story he relied heavily on archival material and oral histories from McCain Library and Archive, a repository that's been collecting materials related to the Hub City for decades. For the first time, historic African American neighborhoods in Hattiesburg—Mobile-Bouie and Palmer's Crossing—have been given the attention they deserve. USM's relationships with these spaces haven't always been as strong as they should be. Hopefully, Sturkey's University Forum Presentation will help heal old wounds, and bring together both Black and White folks for an evening of amazing local history and storytelling.” 

Dr. Sturkey serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South, and in 2020 he was awarded UNC’s Hettleman Prize for outstanding early career achievement. He received his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.  

University Forum is presented by the USM Honors College. Learn more about University Forum and the Honors College at