The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes David P. Cline, an assistant professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, for his studies of 20th century U.S. social movements, oral history, and public history.
Cline traveled the country as a research scholar and a lead interviewer for the Civil Rights History Project, initiated by Congress and managed jointly by the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress.
With veteran videographer John Bishop, Cline recorded oral histories from both major and unsung figures when segregation was common in the United States. His interviews will be featured at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016.
Among his most memorable interviewees are
• The Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, the Richmond minister who was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief of staff and was executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1960 to 1964
• John Carlos, one of the two sprinters who raised black-gloved fists on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City
• Aaron Dixon and Elmer Dixon, brothers who as teenagers founded the Black Panther Party chapter in Washington state
• Children’s author, teacher, and women’s advocate Mildred Pitts Walter
• Clarence Jones, who wrote the first draft of King’s seminal “I Have a Dream” speech
Cline has a special interest in the roles of religious progressives in social movements, including the civil rights and women's movement. From 2008 to 2011 he was the associate director, and for a time the acting director, of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Cline's public history work has included museum exhibits, contributions to radio and film documentaries, large-scale oral history projects with the Library of Congress and others, and a 2005 project to document the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
He is the author of Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961-1973 and was a recipient of the National Council on Public History's New Professional Award in 2004. He has also written about the African-American experience during the Korean War. He teaches courses in public history, oral history, research methods, and the civil rights movement and directs the Graduate Certificate Program in Public History.
He received his doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.