Shelter in a Time of Storm

How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism

By Jelani M. Favors

368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 1 graph

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6144-5
    Published: August 2020
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4834-7
    Published: February 2019
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4973-1
    Published: February 2019

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Awards & distinctions

2020 Museum of African American History Stone Book Award

2020 Lillian Smith Book Award

Finalist, 2020 Pauli Murray Book Prize, African American Intellectual History Society

2020 Museum of African American History Stone Book Award

2020 Lillian Smith Book Award

Finalist, 2020 Pauli Murray Book Prize

For generations, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been essential institutions for the African American community. Their nurturing environments not only provided educational advancement but also catalyzed the Black freedom struggle, forever altering the political destiny of the United States. In this book, Jelani M. Favors offers a history of HBCUs from the 1837 founding of Cheyney State University to the present, told through the lens of how they fostered student activism.

Favors chronicles the development and significance of HBCUs through stories from institutions such as Cheyney State University, Tougaloo College, Bennett College, Alabama State University, Jackson State University, Southern University, and North Carolina A&T. He demonstrates how HBCUs became a refuge during the oppression of the Jim Crow era and illustrates the central role their campus communities played during the civil rights and Black Power movements. Throughout this definitive history of how HBCUs became a vital seedbed for politicians, community leaders, reformers, and activists, Favors emphasizes what he calls an unwritten "second curriculum" at HBCUs, one that offered students a grounding in idealism, racial consciousness, and cultural nationalism.

About the Author

Jelani M. Favors is the Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina A&T State University.

For more information about Jelani M. Favors, visit the Author Page.


"This vivid exploration of an important topic is a must-read for anyone interested in higher education and HBCUs in particular."--Library Journal, starred review

"A welcome addition to the history of higher education and the contemporary scholarship on student activism, social movements, and leadership. . . . A powerful reminder that black colleges were not just a consequence of de jure segregation. They have been, and continue to be, a symbolic space that affirms the humanity and agency of black youth."--Academe

“Favors . . . details the integral role of black colleges in nurturing ‘communitas’ and the ‘unwritten second curriculum’ . . . which spearheaded activism among African Americans from the nadir of race relations (after Reconstruction) to the present day . . . Favors describes the second curriculum and communitas not as a subversive plot against American democracy, but instead as a beacon of hope for all people. Given recent spates of racial unrest across the nation and on college campuses, this book delivers a counternarrative that is at once historic and prescient.”--CHOICE

“Well documented and richly detailed. . . . An important contribution to a comprehensive understanding of the long struggle for civil rights.”--Journal of American History

“A tour de force. . . . By recovering the legacy of HBCUs in fostering generations of leadership and activism, Shelter in a Time of Storm offers a bold vision of the role that black colleges can still play for today’s generation of college students and the issues they—and the rest of American society—currently face."--American Historical Review

“Poignant. . . . Delves deeply into issues of student activism at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and sets out to write a more complex history of Black colleges.”--African American Review

Multimedia & Links

Watch the book trailer

Arranger/Musician: Musa Muhammad, Multimedia Producer/Editor: Ken Wyatt