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Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professorship

Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Established in 2007 through the generosity of members of the Society of Black Alumni (SOBA), alumni, and the President of the Johns Hopkins University

THE SOCIETY OF BLACK ALUMNI (SOBA) formed in 1995. Committed to encouraging diversity at the university, the group offers mentoring and networking opportunities to students and alumni and works on other special projects that meet their aim. In 2007, SOBA leaders established the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professorship in concert with a university effort to recruit outstanding and nationally prominent professors. A partnership among the institution, administrators, and concerned black alumni, the SOBA Presidential Professorship is at the core of programmatic initiatives designed to attract and recruit the best graduate students and faculty. Under a unique structure, the SOBA Professorship title resides in a division for a set number of years, after which it rotates to another division. Upon this rotation, former SOBA professors remain in permanent tenured positions, while the professorship rotates among divisions demonstrating the greatest need for African-American faculty, as determined by the provost of the university. This endowment reflects the Society of Black Alumni’s commitment to Johns Hopkins and its interest in enhancing educational diversity by supporting university efforts to identify and hire outstanding African-American scholars in all disciplines.


Held by Martha S. Jones

Professor MARTHA S. JONES is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, and Professor of History and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.

Professor Jones is the author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (2020), selected as one of Time’s 100 must-read books for 2020.  Her 2018 book, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018), was winner of the Organization of American Historians Liberty Legacy Award (best book in civil rights history), the American Historical Association Littleton-Griswold Prize (best book in American legal history), the American Society for Legal History John Phillip Reid book award (best book in Anglo-American legal history) and the Baltimore City Historical Society Scholars honor for 2020. Professor Jones is also author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900 (2007) and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press (2015), together with many articles and essay.

In 2017, as a Bicentennial Professor at the University of Michigan, she curated Stumbling Blocks, a series of pop-up art installations that explored difficult moments across the university’s history.