Activist in Residence

The Spiritual Life Office, with the Spiritual Life, Peace and Justice Crew, is bringing a NEW Activist-in-Residence program to campus. While on campus the activist will hold workshops, visit classes and be available to consult with members of the community on a particular social justice issue. Our desire in having the activist on campus for an extended period of time is for members of the Warren Wilson community to build relationships with, learn from and collaborate with an experienced activist who is working to effect change in our local, national and global communities. Our hope is that this Activist-in-Residence program will become an annual event that will serve the needs and interests of the community.

This year’s Activist-in-Residence, Tim Tyson, serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP and the Center for Civil Right at UNC Law School. His research recently played a decisive role in winning a pardon of innocence from Governor Beverly Perdue for the "Wilmington Ten," civil rights activists wrongfully convicted in 1973 and sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison. During the unsuccessful 2012 struggle to defeat the anti-LBBT Ammendment One, he helped NAACP President William J. Barber bring about a historic alliance between LGBT communities and the NAACP. Along with Rev. Dr. Barber, Tyson was arrested in a nonviolent protest against the re-segregation of Wake County schools in 2010 and helped orchestrate the defeat of all four "neighborhood schools" candidates in the 2011 school board race.

Tyson served as Profressor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1994 until 2005, when he returned to North Carolina as the John Hope Franklin Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Center and accepted his current post at Duke University, Divinity School, and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Tyson's community-based course, "The South in Black and White," with renowed gospel singer Mary D. Williams, draws hundreds of students from North Carolina Central University, UNC, Durham Technical and Community College, and Duke Divinity School every spring.

He is best known for his 2004 memoir/history, Blood Done Sign My Name, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and selected for UNC Chapel Hill's Summer Reading Program.  Named to Entertainment Weekley's "Must Life," the book also won the Grawemeyer Book Award, and the Christopher Award. Playwright/actor Mike Wiley turned Blood Done Sign My Name into a compelling play that recently opened at Warren Wilson; Hollywood director Jeb Stuart ("Die Hard," The Fugitive") made the book into a feature film that premiered in 2007, Blood Done Sign My Name has sold over 160,000 copies and is used at colleges, universities and secondary schools all over the country.

Tyson's 1999 Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Blacks Power won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for the best first book in U.S. History and the James Rawley Prize for best book on the race, both from the Organization of American Historians.  Radio Free Dixie provided the basis for a documentary film, "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power," broadcast nationally on the PBS February 7, 2006, winner of the 2006 Barnouw Prize for best historical film from the Organization of American Historians. His first book, Democracy Betrayed: the Wilmington Race Riot and Its Legacy, co-edited with David S. Cecelski, won the 1998 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.

His forthcoming book, "The Blood of Emmett TIll: How a Secret Mississippi Murder Became the Most Notorious Racial Incident in the History of the World and Changed America Forever," will be published in the fall of 2012 by Simon & Schuster. He is also working on "Teaching the Dog to Say Grace," a historical and theological examination of race and public education.