Dr. Melton McLaurin is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He received a PhD in American history from the University of South Carolina in 1967, and taught in the UNCW history department from 1977 to 1995. From 1996 until his retirement in 2004, Dr. McLaurin served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UNCW.
Dr. McLaurin is the author of several works, including Separate Pasts, Growing Up White in the Segregated South, Celia: A Slave, which was chosen as a New York Times bestseller in 1991, and The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines. Dr. McLaurin also published a documentary on the Montford Point Marines, The Marines of Montford Point: Fighting for Freedom, and did extensive research on the history of the North Carolina State Fair.
In 1998, the centennial of the Wilmington riots of 1898, Dr. McLaurin worked with the 1898 Centennial Foundation and the university to create dialogue between members of the community in remembrance of this painful event in the city's past. He helped put together a symposium at UNCW in 1998, and worked with the 1898 Foundation, Inc. to raise funds for the creation of a memorial park in Wilmington.