William Ferris is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1997-2001), Ferris has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films. He co-edited the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His books include: Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (2009) which was translated into French as Les Voix du Mississippi (2013), The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists, and The South in Color: A Visual Journal (2016). Ferris curated “I Am a Man”: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South—1960-1970, which opened in the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier, France, in October, 2018. His most recent publication Voices of Mississippi is a box set published by Dust to Digital in 2018 that contains three CDs of his recordings of blues, gospel and stories, a DVD of his documentary films, and a book. In 2019, Voices of Mississippi received two Grammy Awards for Best Liner Notes and for Best Historical Album.
His honors include the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities, the American Library Association's Dartmouth Medal, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and the W.C. Handy Blues Award. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine named him among the Top Ten Professors in the United States. He is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. Ferris received the B. L. C. Wailes Award, given to a Mississippian who has achieved national recognition in the field of history by the Mississippi Historical Society. In 2017, Ferris received the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Proceeds from the Winter-Reed Tribute are used to enhance the program services of MAPE, including scholarships for member school districts to send representatives to training events for improving or establishing partnerships, and to increase the number of regional training events offering guidance to schools and community partners.