College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Meet the Director

jelani_favors.jpgDr. Jelani M. Favors is the Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor of History and the Director of the Center of Excellence for Social Justice at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He is a passionate educator and an award-winning scholar who is widely considered one of the most prominent authorities on the history of Black colleges and universities. He has received major fellowships in support of his research that includes an appointment as a Humanities Writ Large Fellow at Duke University in 2013, and he was an inaugural recipient of the Mellon HBCU Fellowship at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke in 2009. In 2019, Favors released his first book entitled Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press. The book received high praise from reviewers and reset the narrative on the legacy of Black colleges as incubators of student activism and leadership. Shelter in a Time of Storm was the recipient of the 2020 Stone Book Award, the most coveted and prestigious honor recognizing literary works in the field of African American history and culture. The prize is presented annually by the Museum of African American History in Boston. Shelter in a Time of Storm was also the recipient of the 2020 Lillian Smith Book Award given yearly by the Southern Regional Council and the University of Georgia Libraries. The Lillian Smith is the oldest and best-known book award in the south and it recognizes authors who “elucidate conditions of racial and social inequity and propose a vision of justice and human understanding.” Shelter in a Time of Storm was also one of five finalists for the 2020 Pauli Murray Book Prize presented by the African American Intellectual History Society.

Dr. Favors has impacted public discourse as well. His commentary and research have appeared in several publications and media outlets, including CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, MarketWatch, The Atlantic, The Root, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Teen Vogue, The Point, and The Conversation. Most recently, Favors was prominently featured in all four episodes of Harvard University professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates’s 2022 PBS documentary series entitled Making Black America: Through the Grapevine which explores how the vibrancy of Black political and cultural movements were highly dependent on spaces that affirmed Black dignity and humanity such as churches and Black colleges.

Dr. Favors is a passionate and award-winning educator and in 2014, he was invited to co-teach a course entitled, “Citizenship and Freedom: The Civil Rights Era,” alongside Pulitzer Prize winning historian Taylor Branch at the University of Baltimore. The course featured in-class interviews with civil rights movement icons such as Harry Belafonte, Dianne Nash, Bob Moses, and Bernard Lafayette.

Dr. Favors is a major advocate for preserving and investing in the humanities and social sciences and has provided consulting for the MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Moreover, Favors strongly believes that our path towards building a more just, equitable, and compassionate society that will improve the welfare of the human race must be charted by examining and studying the human condition, and his research, service, and commitment to his students reflect those ideals.