04/13/04 — Author, historian to speak at Belk Lecture

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Author, historian to speak at Belk Lecture

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Published in News on April 13, 2004 1:58 PM

An award-winning author and historian will be this year's speaker at the Henry Belk Lecture.

Henry Wiencek's latest book, "An Imperfect God -- George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America," has been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history.

His previous book, "The Hairstons -- An American Family in Black and White," won the 1999 National Book Critics' Circle Award in biography.

He has appeared on "CBS Sunday Morning," "60 Minutes II" and in numerous segments on "BookTV." He is also a senior research fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in Charlottesville, Va.

The Belk lecture is Tuesday, April 20, at 1 p.m. at the Goldsboro Country Club. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased by calling the Wayne County Public Library at 735-1824, extension 108. It is sponsored by the Goldsboro Rotary Club to pay tribute to the memory of Belk, a former editor of the Goldsboro News-Argus who was a long-time leader of the club and helped establish an annual Library Week program to bring in literary speakers.

Wiencek has lectured at Mount Vernon, Monticello, the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery, Yale University, Boston University, the University of Virginia, the Philadelphia Free Library, Baruch College, Wilberforce University, and at numerous literary and historical conferences.

He was series editor of the "Smithsonian Guide to Historic America." He is also the author of "Old Houses, Mansions of the Virginia Gentry, Plantations of the Old South" and several books for Time-Life. He is co-author, with his wife, Donna Lucey, of the "National Geographic Guide to America's Great Houses." He has contributed articles to American Heritage, American Legacy, Smithsonian Magazine, and Connoisseur.

A 1974 graduate of Yale with a B.A. in Russian language and literature, Wiencek lives in Charlottesville with his wife and son.

Belk, for whom the lecture is named, came to Goldsboro in 1926 as editor of the Goldsboro News. From 1929 to 1968, he was editor of the News-Argus. During many of those years he was almost totally blind. His wife, Lucille, and his secretaries read to him, but Belk typed out his editorials and columns on an old Underwood typewriter using the touch system.

Belk, a native of Monroe, had attended Trinity College, now Duke University, and earned a graduate degree at Columbia University in New York. Before coming to Goldsboro, he taught at Wake Forest College.

He served as chairman of the East Carolina University Board of Trustees, president of the North Carolina Press Association, secretary of the North Carolina Railroad and in many other volunteer capacities, and he was a charter member of Madison Avenue Baptist Church.