Paul Ortiz

Paul Ortiz

Head of the CLAS

Award-winning author and oral historian Paul Ortíz has been named director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. He replaces retired history professor Julian Pleasants, who served as program director for 12 years.

Since 2001, Ortíz has been an associate professor in the Department of Community Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His most recent book, Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, received the 2006 Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Book Prize from the Florida Historical Society and the Florida Institute of Technology.

He completed more than 150 interviews as research coordinator for Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South, a project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities that received the Oral History Association’s Outstanding Oral History Project Award in 1996. Subsequently, he served as research coordinator and co-editor for Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Jim Crow South, which received the Southern Regional Council’s 2002 Lillian Smith Book Prize.

Ortíz received a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College in 1990 and a Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 2000. Between 1982 and 1986, he served as a paratrooper and radio operator in the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces, attaining the rank of sergeant. He has worked as a volunteer organizer with the United Farm Workers of Washington State. He has also served as an activist and consultant with numerous unions, including the Farm Labor Organizing Committee of North Carolina.

He was a founding advisory committee member for the Annual Cesar Chavez Celebration in Watsonville, California, and served on the steering committee of the Resource Center for Nonviolence. Ortíz was a founding organizer of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival, and he was a recipient of the University Excellence in Teaching Award.

In August, he will be relocating to UF from Santa Cruz, California with wife Sheila Payne.

With more than 4,000 interviews and thousands of pages of transcripts, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program is the largest program of its kind in the South and one of the largest in the nation. Founded in 1967 by the late history professor and UF historian Samuel Proctor, the program’s mission is to preserve for future generations eyewitness accounts of the economic, social, political, religious, and intellectual life of Florida and the South. Transcribed interviews are available for use by research scholars, students, journalists, genealogists and the general public.



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