Lexington native, University of Kentucky alumnus and Prairie View A&M President George C. Wright was recognized Tuesday night with the UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement.
"Dr. Wright is an accomplished scholar, an award-winning teacher, and a highly recognized higher education administrator," said Terry Birdwhistell, dean of UK Libraries. "His life and career have made a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of students and have given us a greater understanding of race relations both in the United States and around the world."
The UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement is one of UK's most prestigious awards. It was created in 1990 to recognize high intellectual achievement by a Kentuckian who has made a contribution of lasting value to the commonwealth. Recipients have included John Anthony, Wendell Berry, James Still, Bobbie Ann Mason, Thomas D. Clark, Laman A. Gray Jr., Guy Davenport, George C. Herring, Adalin Wichman, John Egerton and Karl Raitz.
Wright received bachelor's and master's degrees in history from UK and a doctorate in history from Duke University. He started as an assistant history professor at UK in 1977. From 1980 to 1993, he worked at the University of Texas at Austin in several capacities as a faculty member, holder of the Mastin Gentry White Professorship of Southern History, and vice provost for undergraduate education. In 1993, he joined the faculty at Duke University as vice provost for university programs and director of the African-American studies program; he also held the William R. Kenan Jr. chair in American History.
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Before joining Prairie View A&M, a historically black university northwest of Houston, Wright was executive vice-president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Wright is the author of three books on race relations: A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980, Volume II; Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule, and 'Legal Lynchings'; and the Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, 1865-1930. He also has published many scholarly articles, chapters in books and essays.
Wright is working on a new book, a biography titled Charles O'Hara Benjamin: A 'Forgotten' Afro-American Leader, about a Kentucky journalist, attorney, teacher and political activist who fought for racial equality.