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    Kenneth Janken



    Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies and Department Honors advisor


    B.A., M.A., History, Hunter College of the City University of New York; Ph. D., American History, Rutgers University

    Teaching Interests:

    In addition to our department's survey course on the black experience, I have taught the civil rights movement, the Harlem Renaissance, black thought, and black leadership. I am on the faculty advisory board of the Office of Undergraduate Research, and I believe that all undergraduates should have a research experience at least once in their time at Carolina.

    Current Research:

    My research focuses on 20th century African American history. I am the author of two biographies: Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual (1993) and White: The Biography of Walter White, Mr. NAACP (2003), which won honorable mention in the Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America. I have also published several academic articles on topics such as the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement in the 1940s, and African Americans and world affairs.

    I am currently working on a history of the Wilmington Ten.  They were civil rights activists who were falsely convicted of arson and firing upon firefighters and police officers during four days of rioting in February 1971 in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The violence that rocked Wilmington occurred in the context of tensions related to the desegregation of the city’s public schools. Their convictions, which were overturned by a federal appeals court in 1980, hinged on perjured testimony knowingly solicited by the state’s attorney. The project will analyze the circumstances surrounding the racial violence and the state’s misconduct and evaluate the nationwide “Free the Wilmington Ten” political mobilization. It will analyze Black Power forms of organizing that typified African American politics in the 1970s and their relationships to traditional forms of political action.


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