Skip to main content

Kenneth Janken receives George Johnson Prize, recognition for distinguished achievement

November 3, 2022 | Kristen Chavez

Kenneth JankenKenneth Janken, professor of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, is the 2022 recipient of the George H. Johnson Prize for Distinguished Achievement by an IAH Fellow.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty in the arts, humanities, and qualitative social sciences. The biennial award provides $5,000 to the recipient, who also traditionally delivers a presentation.

Janken’s nominator lauded him as “one of the anchors of the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies,” joining the Carolina faculty in the 1990s. In his department, Janken is the director of undergraduate studies and the department honors adviser.

“I congratulate Kenneth on being selected for this honor,” said Patricia Parker, director of the Institute. “His impactful scholarship and longtime service and dedication to his department, among his many other achievements, make him worthy of this distinction.”

Janken’s research focuses on 20th century African American history, whose most recent book, The Wilmington Ten: Violence, Injustice, and the Rise of Black Politics in the 1970s, received the Clarendon Award from the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society.

“I am honored to be the 2022 recipient of the George H. Johnson Prize. The IAH is a Carolina treasure,” said Janken of the award, which was first granted to English and comparative literature professor Trudier Harris in 2008.

“I am fortunate to be associated with the IAH and, not coincidentally, to have been the beneficiary of the scholarly insights and generosity of time of previous recipients of the George H. Johnson Prize. I hope to continue to emulate their intellectual commitments to the arts and humanities and to being good university citizens.”

Janken participated in the IAH’s Faculty Fellowship Program twice: as a Hettleman Fellow in 1994 and a Burress Fellow in 2001.

“As a two-time Faculty Fellow, I made great progress on two projects that would have been much harder to complete without a semester’s leave and rich conversation around the lunch table. It was around that table that I formed relationships with fellow fellows that have lasted over decades,” said Janken.

Janken later joined the Academic Leadership Program in 2014. In 2019, he received the Schwab Academic Excellence Award in recognition of his teaching and scholarship. Janken also previously served as the director of the Center for the Study of the American South.

In spring 2023, Janken will deliver an honorary lecture as part of the Johnson Prize festivities. When confirmed, the details about the presentation will be shared on the Institute’s website and calendar.

The award is named for George H. Johnson, one of the Institute’s earliest ambassadors. Previous recipients include Elizabeth Olson (2020), Lloyd Kramer (2018), John McGowan (2016), James Peacock (2014), Gerald Postema (2012), Julia Wood (2010), and Trudier Harris (2008).


 Original announcement posted at

Comments are closed.