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Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative


In 2019, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities Director Andrew Perrin announced a new initiative to commit $500,000 over three years to faculty research, publication, support, education, and outreach on race, memory, and reckoning at UNC-Chapel Hill.  

The Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative began as a response to the Board of Governors settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 2019. The initiative seeks to understand and challenge the way we talk about race and how it relates to personal, intergenerational, and systemic memory — and how we’re accountable to ourselves and to each other. 

The following year, the initiative’s purpose became ever more significant with the emergence of a national and global reckoning on race and social injustice. 

Though the Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative was developed in 2019, the IAH’s commitment to equity and inclusion has been long standing. In all that we do, we strive to enact our mission statement: to empower faculty to achieve their full potential by creating community and cultivating leadership. Equity and inclusion are the bedrock for creating community—if people do not feel included and are not treated equitably, they cannot reach their full potential or become leaders. 

Moreover, we believe that equity and inclusion are fundamental principles that guide the arts and humanities: these humanistic disciplines require acknowledgment and engagement with the richness and diversity of people from all backgrounds. 

The initiative has been extended to 2024.


Ongoing Programming

The Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative has supported and enhanced existing programming at the IAH, including the Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group and the Grants for Faculty From Underrepresented Groups.

Since 2017, the Institute has partnered with the Racial Equity Institute in Greensboro, NC, offering Racial Equity Training workshops in Hyde Hall and virtually. Over 100 Carolina faculty and staff have participated in an REI workshop. The workshop is built into the program design of the Academic Leadership Program. Participation is also open each year for up to 30 IAH Fellows and faculty participating in IAH Programs.  

Each year, the Institute has awarded additional Faculty Fellowships through the Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative for faculty projects focused on race, memory, inequality, and related areas. Recipients are noted below. 


Year 1 (2020-2021) 

Faculty Fellowships 

Fall 2020 

John Sweet, History | IAH Legacy Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative 

“Seeing Segregation in Everyday Places: The Legacies of Chapel Hill’s Cultural Landscapes” 


Spring 2021 

Oswaldo Estrada, Romance Studies | Arts & Humanities Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative 

“Tar Dreams: Latina/o Stories of Migration in North Carolina” 

Read more about Sweet, Estrada, and their fellowships in the Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine: “IAH fellows explore race and place” 



When the COVID-19 pandemic brought many in-person events to a halt, the Institute launched the IAH Zoom Talks, a varied series that brought discussions to people’s homes across the globe. Select IAH Zoom Talks during 2020-2021 were: 

  • Aug. 9, 2020: Karol Mason, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Where Do We Go From Here: What Can Each of Us Do to Create a More Perfect Union?”  
  • Sept. 9, 2020: Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. “Society after Pandemic” 
  • Feb. 10, 2021: Dylan Robinson, artist and writer, and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University. “thá:ytset: shxwelí li te shxwelítemelh xíts’etáwtxw / The Museum’s Incarceration of Indigenous Life” 


Year 2 (2021-2022) 

Faculty Fellowships 

Fall 2021 

Hérica Valladares, Classics | IAH Legacy Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative 

“Fashioning Empire: Roman Women and their Objects” 

Listen to a podcast with Valladares about her research. 


Spring 2022 

Glenn Hinson, Anthropology | Friends of the Institute – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative
“The Descendants Project–Reckoning and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of N.C. Lynchings” 



Signature event: Mary Stevens Reckford Lecture in European Studies 

Magdalena J. Zaborowska will deliver the 2022 Mary Stevens Reckford Lecture in European Studies on Feb. 24, 2022. Her lecture is titled, “”Between Home, Blackness, and Me:” Unsettling Locations, Lives, and Archives in American Literary Studies.” 

There are several related programming and events to the Reckford Lecture, including: 

  • A reading group organized by the Institute, the American Studies Department and the Critical Ethnic Studies Collective on Zaborowska’s book, Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France 
  • Feb. 3, 2022: A public conversation with the reading group exploring themes of the book and their resonance today and in the work of African American, Indigenous and people of color and their contributions to Europe and beyond. 
  • Feb. 11, 2022: Finding Baldwin: An Exploration of Belonging and Identity in Archives,” a workshop coordinated with University Libraries.  


2022 CHCI Annual Conference: Face to Face: Forms of the Humanities 

May 20, 2022: The IAH will host a panel in Hyde Hall on “South-South Interfaces of Intellectual Traditions and Everyday Activism” for the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes’ annual meeting, coordinated by Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Institute. 


Year 3 (2022-2023) 

Faculty Fellows

Fall 2022

Samuel Ray Gates, Dramatic Art | Legacy Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative

“When the Swelling Goes Down”


Spring 2023

Heidi Kim, English and Comparative Literature | Arts & Humanities Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative

“Beyond Reparations: The Lessons of the Japanese American Incarceration”


Year 4 (2023-2024) 

Faculty Fellows

Fall 2023

Shannon GonzalezSociology | Legacy Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative

“The Secrets of Silence: Black Women Speaking on Police Violence and Invisibility”

Spring 2024

Erika Serrato, Romance Studies | Friend of the Institute Fellow – Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative

“Native Blueprint: Reading the Landscape and the Making of an Indigenous Caribbean”


Future Plans 

While the Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative was originally launched with the three-year plan above, we are committed to this work beyond the initial timeline. We plan to publish a collection of all Fellows’ work whose projects are funded by the initiative.