Pettengill Hall, Room 104
African American Studies
B.A., Goddard College; M.A. and Ph.D., Cornell University
Hilmar Jensen was born in Wilmington, Delaware and educated at that city’s Friends School – the first student of color to matriculate through its entire curriculum in its 270-year history. He received a B.A. from the most educationally innovative liberal arts institution of its era – Goddard College – in 1972, followed by stints as an archivist at the Delaware Historical Society and the American Philosophical Society; research assistant to the executor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Papers; and teacher of History and Writing at Boston’s Commonwealth School. After graduate study at Cornell, he was awarded a Du Bois Fellowship at Harvard University in 1978 and afterward was appointed an Associate Fellow of Harvard’s Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Subsequently, he joined the faculty of Holy Cross College – and began teaching at Bates in 1992. In January 2018, he became the first person of color to chair the Bates History Department in its 163-year history. In several previous years, he chaired both the American Studies and African American Studies programs.
He offers courses on U.S. History from 1890 to 2000, African American History, the American Protest Tradition, Wartime Dissent and Civil Liberties in Modern America, Political Film and Historical Narrative, the 1960s, and Lewiston History – as well as seminars on the Civil Rights Movement, Twentieth Century American Intellectuals, the Great Depression, and Harlem from 1900 to 1954. He is proud to have recruited and hosted on campus a list of legendary Freedom Movement activists including, among others, Bob Moses, Dick Gregory, Howard Zinn, Julius Lester, William Worthy, Rev. James Lawson, and Bernice Johnson Reagon.
His long-term research examines the radical roots of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the African American Popular Front insurgency of the 1930s and 1940s.