N.C. A&T Alum, National Award-Winning Scholar Named Frye Distinguished Professor

By Staff Report / 09/16/2021 College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 16, 2021) – The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University recently announced Jelani M. Favors Ph.D., ‘97, author of the national award-winning and highly acclaimed book “Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism,” has joined the faculty as the Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor.

Henry E. Frye is an American judge and politician who served as the first African American chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Frye and his wife, Shirley, are graduates of A&T, and established the endowed faculty position.

As the Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor, Favors will assist in establishing a Center of Excellence within CAHSS, serving as the center’s founding director. He also will teach courses in the Department of History and Political Science, produce scholarly publications, serve as a mentor to junior faculty and students and exemplify the initiative, integrity and service befitting the honored recognition associated with this endowed appointment. Other responsibilities include engaging in accreditation procedures, fundraising, grant writing, and service to the department, college and university.

According to Favors, “Shelter in a Time of Storm” has reset the narrative on the legacy of historically Black colleges and universities and their contributions to the Black liberation struggle in America. The book received the 2020 Stone Book Award, an annual prize presented by the Museum of African American History in Boston since 2019 with the goal of recognizing “new literary work in the field of African American history and culture” and rewarding “exceptional adult non-fiction books written in a literary style.” The Stone Book Award has become one of the most popular and notable in the humanities with a cash prize of $50,000 for the first-place recipient and $10,000 for two finalists.

The Southern Regional Council and the University of Georgia Libraries selected “Shelter in a Time of Storm” as the 2020 Lillian Smith Book Award recipient, an annual recognition since 1968 of the book that best represents “outstanding creative achievements worthy of recognition because of their literary merit, moral vision, and honest representation of the South, its people, problems, and promises.”

The Lillian Smith Book Award is the oldest and best-known book award in the South and past winners include Alice Walker, Alex Haley, Pauli Murray, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis. In 2021, Florida A&M University adopted “Shelter in a Time of Storm” as its common read book for its incoming class of 2025 and is currently implementing a curriculum to teach and discuss the book with students.

Favors 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 as the inaugural recipient of the Mellon HBCU Fellowship at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke in 2009. In 2014, he was invited to co-teach the course, “Citizenship and Freedom: The Civil Rights Era,” alongside Pulitzer Prize winning historian Taylor Branch at the University of Baltimore.

Favors, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, graduated from A&T with a B.A. in history. He earned his Ph.D. in history and M.A. in African American studies from The Ohio State University.

Media Contact Information: uncomm@ncat.edu

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