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Adjunct Professor (Primary Appointment in African, African American, and Diaspora Studies)
301 Battle Hall


BA, MA Hunter College of the City University of New York, 1987
PhD Rutgers University, 1991

Research Interests

Professor Janken’s most recent book, published in January 2016 is The Wilmington Ten: Violence, Injustice, and the Rise of Black Politics in the 1970s. In February 1971, racial tension surrounding school desegregation in Wilmington, North Carolina, culminated in four days of violence and skirmishes between white vigilantes and black residents. The turmoil resulted in two deaths, six injuries, more than $500,000 in damage, and the firebombing of a white-owned store, before the National Guard restored uneasy peace. Despite glaring irregularities in the subsequent trial, ten young persons were convicted of arson and conspiracy and then sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison. They became known internationally as the Wilmington Ten. A powerful movement arose within North Carolina and beyond to demand their freedom, and after several witnesses admitted to perjury, a federal appeals court, also citing prosecutorial misconduct, overturned the convictions in 1980. His research focuses on 20th-century African American history. In addition to the history of the Wilmington Ten, he is the author of two biographies: Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual (1993); and 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. He has also published academic articles on topics such as the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement in the 1940s, African Americans and world affairs, and school desegregation in North Carolina. His January 2015 article in the North Carolina Historical Review, “Remembering the Wilmington Ten: African American Politics and Judicial Corruption in the 1970s,” won the R.D.W. Connor best article award in North Carolina history.

Some Notable Publications

  • The Wilmington Ten: Violence, Injustice, and the Rise of Black Politics in the 1970s (University of North Carolina Press, 2016)

  • White: The Biography of Walter White, Mr. NAACP (The New Press, 2003; UNC Press, 2006)

  • Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual (University of Massachusetts Press, 1993)

  • “From Colonial Liberation to Cold War Liberalism: Walter White, the NAACP, and Foreign Affairs, 1941–1955.”  Ethnic & Racial Studies 21 (1998): 1074– 95

  • “African-American and Francophone Black Intellectuals during the Harlem Renaissance.” The Historian 60 (1998): 487–505

  • “African Americans Confront the ‘Silent South’: The What the Negro Wants Controversy.” North Carolina Historical Review 70 (1993): 153–79