UNCW Professor Emeritus Melton McLaurin Awarded Order of the Longleaf Pine

Friday, November 09, 2018

Melton McLaurin has been recognized for his contributions as a teacher, author, scholar and civilian with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor the governor of North Carolina can bestow. He is being honored for his contributions to the civic and civil dialogue on race, across the state and the nation.

A native North Carolinian, McLaurin joined the UNC Wilmington faculty as chair of the Department of History in 1977 and served for 27 years in both faculty and administrative roles until his retirement in 2004, when he was designated Professor Emeritus of History.

He is the author or co-author of nine books and numerous articles and essays on various aspects of the history of the American South. Among his best-known works are The Marines of Montford Point: America’s First Black Marines (UNC Press, 2007); Separate Pasts, Growing Up White in the Segregated South (University of Georgia Press, 1987), which won the Lillian Smith Award for nonfiction; and Celia, A Slave (University of Georgia Press, 1991), which was chosen as a New York Times notable book of the year. 

In 2006, he wrote and directed an hour-long television documentary, “The Marines of Montford Point, Fighting for Freedom,” which was narrated by actor Louis Gossett Jr. and broadcast on PBS stations across the country.

McLaurin was instrumental in establishing the 1898 Foundation, which dedicated a monument in Wilmington on the 110th anniversary of the infamous race riots. He is a longtime member of the Wilmington Kiwanis Club.

The award was also recently presented to longtime UNCW faculty members and fellow historians Larry Usilton, Walter Conser and Chris Fonvielle, as well as Earl Sheridan, retired UNCW professor of public and international affairs, who is pictured presenting the award to McLaurin at a recent Kiwanis Club meeting. Each recipient is considered an honorary ambassador of the state.

-- Caroline Cropp