Hanes Walton Papers

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Hanes Walton papers

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Hanes Walton, Jr. papers record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Papers documenting the professional life and advocacy of Hanes Walton, Jr., an eminent professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Collection includes correspondence, book reviews, dissertations produced under his guidance, materials demonstrating Walton’s participation in university minority advocacy committees and publications, course syllabi and exams, oral histories and statistics gathered in the course of Walton’s research, and files pertaining to his role as a supporter of historically black colleges and universities in the United States.

Hanes Walton, Jr., was born September 25, 1941, in Augusta, Georgia. He attended public school in Athens, Georgia, graduating with honors in 1959. Walton pursued his undergraduate education at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was honored as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society before graduating in 1963, and received a Master of Arts degree from Atlanta University in 1964. In 1967, he became the first person to graduate with a PhD in government from Howard University in the District of Columbia. All of Walton’s alma maters were historically black academic institutions, and Walton advocated for these and similar colleges for the remainder of his life.

Walton enjoyed a long and prestigious career as a respected professor of political science. Following his graduation from Howard, he taught for four years at Savannah State College (subsequently renamed Savannah State University) before serving a one-year term at his alma mater Atlanta University (later called Clark Atlanta University). Walton returned to Savannah State in 1972 and served a Congressional Fellow at the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 1984. Upon his return to his home state, Walton assumed an additional position as adjunct professor at the University of Georgia in 1984. In 1992, he became part of the faculty of the University of Michigan as a professor of American politics. A joint appointment as a research professor for the Center for Political Research at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research followed. Walton was also active in professional organizations, serving as vice president of the American Political Science Association and cofounding the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

Over the course of his nearly fifty years as a professor, Walton proved a prolific writer and a vigorous scholar, especially in the areas of African-American politics, presidential elections, and public policy. In 1972, he published the work that became the foundation of his career, a book entitled Black Politics: A Theoretical and Structural Analysis. In the years that followed, Walton penned an additional twenty-four books—including seminal textbooks—twenty-six book chapters, eighty-three articles, and fifty-five book reviews; he also gave more than two dozen presentations at professional conferences and contributed several sections to encyclopedias. He played an active role as a reader and editorial board member of numerous professional journals, critiquing and selecting work by some of the nation’s top scholars. Throughout all of facets of his career as an academic, Walton exhibited incisive insight and blazed trails that codified black American political science as a field, leading many colleagues to endow him with the unofficial honorific “Dean of Black Politics.”

Although Walton’s scholarly research left a remarkable legacy, it was his gifted teaching that his students most vividly remembered. In the classroom, Walton peppered his lectures with gripping anecdotes and witty jokes about American politicians and current events. While at Savannah State, Walton was named to by the Callaway Foundation to the Fuller E. Callaway Professorial Chair, a position reserved for professors whose teaching abilities achieved a distinguished level of engagement. Moreover, his dedication to connecting with students at a personal level on the topics at hand prompted many undergraduates in his courses to pursue degrees in political science and to become professors themselves.

Hanes Walton, Jr., died unexpectedly at his home in Ann Arbor on January 7, 2013, at the age of seventy-two. He was survived by his two sons, Brandon Walton and Brent Walton, among numerous other friends and relatives. The University of Michigan group Political Scientists of Color continues to honor Walton’s legacy by annually hosting the Dr. Hanes Walton Jr. Distinguished Speaker Lecture.

Please note:

Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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