Kevin K. Gaines

Fast Facts

  • Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice at the University of Virginia
  • Past president of the American Studies Association
  • Expertise on African American history, art, music, literature, and culture

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Human Rights and Civil Rights
  • Law and Justice
  • Media and the Press
  • Race and Racism
  • Social Issues
  • Politics

Kevin K. Gaines is the Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice at the University of Virginia. He received his BA degree from Harvard University and his PhD degree from Brown University in the Department of American Civilization. He is author of Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), which was awarded the John Hope Franklin book prize of the American Studies Association. His book American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era (UNC Press, 2006) was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. 

Gaines is a past president of the American Studies Association (2009-10). While at the University of Michigan, he was the director of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies from 2005-2010.  

From 1987 to 1991, he was jazz director at WBRU-FM in Providence, Rhode Island and on-air host of jazz, blues, and reggae programs. He was a member of the advisory board of the Detroit Jazz Festival from 2012 to 2018.

Gaines is currently working on three books: one entitled The African American Journey: A Global History (forthcoming, Oxford University Press); an intellectual biography of the African American social science scholar and activist St. Clair Drake; and the third, tentatively titled, Problems and Projects of Integration. His essays, columns, and reviews on African American history, art, music, literature, and culture have been published in major newspapers, journals, and magazines, including The New York Times, Ebony, Truthout, American Quarterly, American Historical Review, Journal of American History, American Literary History, Small Axe, and Radical History Review. He has lectured at universities throughout the U.S. as well as internationally in Japan, Korea, England, France, Ghana, South Africa, and Australia.

Kevin K. Gaines News Feed

Sharing their personal stories, journalist Jill Lawrence and psychologist Pamela Gipson Banks discuss the recent culture wars over how race is taught in public schools. As a teenager in the 1960s, Banks, an African American student from Jackson, Mississippi, attended Lawrence's white high school in Long Island, New York. (Read Lawrence's recent USA Today column about their experiences here.) Their conversation offers lessons from the past to help overcome the racial strife in our current politics.
Kevin K. Gaines Miller Center Presents
Wonder's quest to create a Martin Luther King Day holiday also followed the tradition of US musicians and popular artists who joined movements for social change throughout the 20th Century, according to Kevin Gaines, the Julian Bond professor of civil rights and social justice at the University of Virginia.
Kevin K. Gaines BBC
Leading scholars of African American history and politics engage in a conversation discussing former President Barack Obama’s post presidency, moderated by Kevin Gaines, faculty senior fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center.
Kevin K. Gaines Miller Center Presents
LBJ: Triumph and Tragedy is a four-part CNN Original Series that offers a captivating look at one of the most consequential and enigmatic presidents in American history. Thrust into the presidency under tragic circumstances, LBJ used the office to pass the most significant civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. While managing to reshape the social fabric of the nation, he simultaneously escalated one America’s most controversial wars, that subsequently overshadowed his domestic accomplishments. LBJ: Triumph and Tragedy examines the larger-than-life figure full of fascinating contradictions, that left behind a complicated and polarizing legacy.
Kevin K. Gaines CNN
I reached out to Kevin Gaines, associate director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He’s also a history professor there. Gaines noted race complicates human interactions in the United States. Layering politics on top of that heightens tensions. Maybe Youngkin “meant well in complimenting a speech on Black history,” Gaines told me Tuesday, “but it hasn’t been long since he signed an executive order on critical race theory. “He’s really pandering in a cynical way to a vocal minority of White Virginians.”
Kevin K. Gaines Virginia Mercury
In connection to Presidents’ Day weekend, a four-part documentary, “LBJ: Triumph and Tragedy,” will debut on CNN with back-to-back, 9 p.m. episodes on Sunday and Monday. Barnes, who was interviewed at length for the film, will help preview it Wednesday on CNN as she joins “Don Lemon Tonight” around 11:45 p.m. She appears several times throughout the documentary’s four episodes. Kevin Gaines, UVA’s inaugural Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice, and Guian McKee, a presidential studies professor at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, also appear in the series.
Kevin K. Gaines UVA Today