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Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities 2023-24: Hess Scholar-in-Residence: Paul Ortiz

About Paul Ortiz

Paul OrtizBrooklyn College’s 2023-24 Hess Scholar-in-Residence, is Professor of History and Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. 

He is the author of several books including, African American and Latinx History of the United States (2018) and Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920 (2005); co-editor of People Power: History, Organizing and Larry Goodwyn’s Democratic Vision in the Twenty-First Century (2021); and Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South (2014). 

Ortiz’s An African American and Latinx History of the United States, was identified by Bustle as one of “Ten Books About Race to Read Instead of Asking a Person of Color to Explain Things to You.” Fortune Magazine listed it as one of the “10 books on American history that actually reflect the United States.” 

He has published essays in The American Historical Review, Latino StudiesCultural Dynamics, The Oral History Review, KalfouFlorida Historical Quarterly, and many other journals. He has been interviewed by Agencia De Noticias Del Estado MexicanoARD German Radio and Television, Newsweek, Telemundo, The New Yorker, MoneyGeek, The Guardian, Washington Post, BBC, Hong Kong Daily AppleThe New York Times, and other media on the histories of social movements and immigration among other topics.

Prof. Ortiz is a former president of the Oral History Association. The Society of American Archivists bestowed its Diversity Award on the UF’s Proctor Oral History Program for its “relentless pursuit of community knowledge, local voices, and academic transformation has created a monumental program that has impacted the lives of countless people in Florida and across the nation.” The Doris Duke Charitable Trust noted that the program’s “social justice research methodologies are the focus of scholars and oral history programs across the globe.” 

Prof. Ortiz is a PEN-award winning writer and a National Archives Distinguished Fellow in Latinx History. Paul was a consultant and featured narrator for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s The Black Church: This is Our Story. This Is Our Song, which premiered on PBS in 2021. He is a consultant and featured narrator for John Leguizamo’s American Historia docuseries on Latino history that will air on PBS in 2024 with the permission of the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild. 

Prof. Ortiz is a third-generation military veteran and a first-generation college graduate. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division and 7th Special Forces Group in Central America where he worked in multiple combat zones. He received the US Armed Forces’ Humanitarian Service Medal for meritorious action in the wake of the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano in 1985. 

Prof. Ortiz received his PhD in history from Duke University in 2000. He earned his BA from the Evergreen State College in 1990 and his Associate of Arts degree from Olympic College in 1988. His pathway to academia included working as an organizer with the United Farm Workers, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and many other unions and community organizations. 

In 2013, Paul Ortiz received the César E. Chávez Action and Commitment Award, from the Florida Education Association, AFL-CIO for “Outstanding leadership through engaging in activities which dignify workers and by making notable contributions to the labor movement & demonstrating resilience in organizing workers, especially those who have been traditionally disadvantaged.” Prof. Ortiz a is past president of the United Faculty of Florida-UF (FEA-AFL-CIO), the union that represents tenured and non-tenure track faculty at UF. 

Books by Paul Ortiz

Articles & Additional Works by Paul Ortiz

Report of the Presidential Task Force on African American and Native American History and the University of Florida
University of Florida (April 2022)

Arizona's New Laws: An Attempt to Secure Cheap Labor?
in Truthout (June 2010)

Memories of Revolution
in Cultural Dynamics, Vol. 31, Issue 4 (September 2019)

Roundtable on Jill Lepore's These Truths: A History of the United States
in American Historical Review, 
Volume 125, Issue 5 (December 2020)

Oral History, Democracy, and the Power of Memory 
in African American Studies: 50 Years at the University of Florida, ed., Jacob Gordon and Paul Ortiz (2021)

C.L.R. James's Visionary Legacy
in Against the Current (January/February 2012)

Black History in Florida
Washington Post Interview with Paul Ortiz and Jonathan Capehart (August 2, 2023)

Can't Ban Us Day of Action
in Black History Teach-Ins in Florida and Beyond, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (February 25, 2023)

Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida

Making History Matter: Teaching Comparative African American and Latina/o Histories in an Age of Neoliberal Crisis
in Kalfou (Spring 2016)

Challenging Racism Series
The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida (2022-23)

Related Books

Related Reports & Articles

Additional Books Recommended by Paul Ortiz