Korstad Honored with John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities

 June 12, 2024


Man at podium with medal around his neck addressing crowd
Korstad addresses the audience after accepting the award. 

Robert Korstad, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Bass Fellow, was recently recognized as one of two recipients of the distinguished 2024 John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities. This prestigious accolade, the highest in the state for the humanities, is awarded to individuals whose lifelong work and dedication have significantly enriched the cultural life of North Carolina.

The award ceremony, held on May 17 in Charlotte, NC, featured an oral history showcase and a conversation with the honorees, Dr. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall and Korstad. Both acclaimed historians, Hall and Korstad, have dedicated their careers to amplifying the voices and stories of North Carolina and the modern South. Their work has not only preserved important historical narratives but also inspired communities to engage with history in meaningful ways.

In a joint statement, Hall and Korstad expressed their deep gratitude for the recognition:

“We were beyond surprised and honored to receive the Caldwell Award. Bob was born, raised, and mostly educated in North Carolina. Jacquelyn has been at UNC-Chapel Hill for more than fifty years. Separately and together, we have spent most of our adult lives trying to write and teach history in public-facing ways. Our aspiration has always been to amplify voices and stories that encourage citizens to see themselves as historical actors who can draw on the past to imagine a better future. We are especially grateful to North Carolina Humanities for recognizing how much we have leaned on each other—and by extension on our students, colleagues, and friends—in this life-defining endeavor.”

Man and woman each have medals around their necks as they smile for camera
Korstad with co-recipient Jacquelyn Dowd Hall.

Korstad's career was celebrated as well in the announcement from North Carolina Humanities. "Dr. Robert Korstad, a native of North Carolina, has made significant contributions through his research and teaching, focusing on labor history, civil rights, and the intersection of race and class in the American South. His commitment to bringing forward the often-overlooked narratives of everyday people has profoundly impacted the field of history and enriched public understanding."

Korstad has extensive expertise as a historian of the South, with a particular emphasis on North Carolina. Recently, Korstad helped create the Uneven Ground project that illuminated the history of housing inequality in Durham, NC, with a series of archived pictures, eyewitness accounts, and historical analysis. This exhibit was featured in the Rubenstein Building earlier this year as part of Sanford's Black Policy Conference, with Korstad also leading a discussion with a panel of local housing leaders

About North Carolina Humanities

North Carolina Humanities connects North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections, and inspire community. By creating opportunities to explore and reflect on the past, present, and future, North Carolina Humanities enriches lives with empathy, understanding, and respect. Reaching nearly all 100 counties in the state, this nonprofit organization increases the cultural capacity of local institutions and positively impacts local economies through programs, initiatives, and grants. Established in 1972 and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, North Carolina Humanities is dedicated to making the humanities accessible to everyone across the state.