Randal Jelks, associate professor of American studies and African American studies at the University of Kansas, has been awarded the 2013 Lillian Smith Book Award, which is sponsored by the Southern Regional Council, the University of Georgia Libraries, the Dekalb County Public Library, and the Georgia Center for the Book. The award is given to authors who “enhance racial awareness in their work through literary merit, moral vision, and honest representation of the South.”
Professor Jelks was honored for his book Benjamin Elijah Mays: Schoolmaster of the Movement (University of North Carolina Press, 2012). Mays, a minister and president of Morehouse College in Atlanta during the years of the civil rights movement, had a profound impact on Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black leaders of that time. Mays was a graduate of Bates College in Maine and held a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in religion from the University of Chicago.
Dr. Jelks is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He holds a master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and a Ph.D. in history from Michigan State University. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church. Before joining the faculty at the University of Kansas, Dr. Jelks taught at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.