Dr. Timothy B. Tyson is Senior Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School, and holds appointments in the Department of History at Duke University and in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina. He was Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1994 until 2004, when he was chosen as John Hope Franklin Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Center. He has been named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.
A North Carolina native, he received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1994.
Tyson’s latest book, Blood Done Sign My Name, recounts a racial murder committed in his hometown of Oxford, North Carolina in 1970 by the father of a childhood friend and the African American uprising that followed. It represents Tyson's effort at what South Africans have called “Truth and Reconciliation.” Blood won the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction, the Grawemeyer Award from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, the Christopher Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2005, Entertainment Weekly placed Blood on its coveted "Must List" right behind the most recent "Harry Potter" movie. Blood has been selected by dozens of university and community reading programs including those at the University of North Carolina, the University of Iowa and Villanova University.
Tyson's Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power won both the James Rawley Prize and the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize from the Organization of American Historians. Tyson is co-editor with David Cecelski of Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy, which won the 1999 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights. He is working on books on the notorious Emmet Till murder case of 1955 and on the Black Power-era international controversy of the “Wilmington Ten” cases of the early 1970s. Tyson’s articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, Christian Century, Tranforming Anthropology, and The Crisis, among others.
Radio Free Dixie also provided the basis for a 2006 documentary film, "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power," produced by the Documentary Institute at the University of Florida, which won the 2006 Erik Barnouw Prize for best film from the Organization of American Historians and was featured in the New York Times and broadcast nationally on PBS-TV on February 7, 2006.
His latest publication, “Ghosts of 1898: Wilmington’s Race Riot and the Rise of White Supremacy,” a special 16-page illustrated section of the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer, was distributed to 700,000 North Carolina households and won an Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Tyson continues to do scholarly work and to translate it for audiences beyond the academy. Jeb Stuart, an A-list Hollywood screenwriter and director, best known for “The Fugitive” and “Die Hard,” is directing a feature film based on Blood. Shooting was completed in this summer of 2008 and the film will come out in early 2009. Mike Wiley’s play, “Blood Done Sign My Name,” for which Tyson served as executive producer, premiered at Duke University’s Sheafer Theater in November 2008 and will continue to tour in 2009 and beyond, starting with performances at city hall in Oxford, North Carolina in February.
The course that Tyson teaches with gospel singer Mrs. Mary D. Williams, “The South in Black and White,” at the Hayti Heritage Center in downtown Durham continues to draw 300 students from North Carolina Central, Duke, UNC, and the surrounding community. He and Mrs. Williams teach racial reconciliation and African American history in high schools, churches and colleges in North Carolina and across the country, from Princeton Theological Seminary to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.