Barbara Lau

Executive Director

Barbara Lau

Barbara Lau (she/her) is executive director of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice and director of the Pauli Murray Project at the Duke Human Rights Center/John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. In her roles, Lau connects her commitment to justice with her belief in the power of community practice.

Lau brings 40 years of experience as a folklorist, curator, professor, oral historian, media producer, and author to this work. Her credits includes curating exhibitions, performances and public art projects. She has produced To Buy the Sun, an original play about Pauli Murray; co-directed the Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life community mural project; curated Pauli Murray: Imp, Crusader, Dude, Priest, two major exhibitions about Cambodian American traditions and many small traveling exhibits about Durham history.

She is a recipient of the 2014 Samuel DuBois Cook Society Award, the 2013 Outstanding Faculty Award from the Duke Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity,  and the 2012 of the Carlie B. Sessoms Award from the Durham Human Relations Commission for her leadership. She was honored with the National Association of Multicultural Education’s Children’s Publication Award in 2003. She received her BA in Urban Studies and Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis and her MA in Folklore at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.