Award for NC historian’s book about Mississippi city

May 16, 2020 GMT

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A Los Angeles cultural and publishing nonprofit led by the rock band Nirvana’s former bassist is giving its 10th annual book award to a University of North Carolina historian’s account of civil rights in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Zócalo Public Square board chairman and Nirvana co-founder Krist Novoselić will present the award to William Sturkey in a livestreamed event Wednesday.


The event will feature a lecture titled “How Do Oppressed People Build Community?” and a conversation with Yale University historian David W. Blight, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.”

Sturkey’s “Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White” describes the city’s racial history from its founding into the civil rights era, with alternate chapters about white and black people.

A review in the Journal of African American History described it as brilliant and poignant.

Another reviewer, in the Journal of Southern History, wrote that Sturkey “shows the complexity of Jim Crow. That includes the power of African Americans in a period when it has been assumed that black Mississippians had little to no say over their lives, and it involves the unforeseen manner in which white southerners laid the groundwork for the modern civil rights movement.”

Zócalo Public Square is a creative unit of Arizona State University. Novoselić was named chairma n of its board in early May.