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Name: Adolphus Belk Jr.
Position: Political science professor
Department: Political Science


While growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Political Science Professor Adolphus Belk Jr. soaked in his surroundings. At a young age, Belk was struck by several observations. Why were so many men going to prison and why were drugs so available?

He pondered these questions until he connected the dots in college.

As an undergraduate, Belk attended a lecture by political activist and professor Angela Davis, who talked about mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. “She discussed the issues that lead prisons to industry, such as issue-seeking politicians and rural communities seeking to stave off poverty,” said Belk. “After years of wrapping my mind around the concept, I finally had a name for it.”

In graduate school Belk delved deeper into his research on the prison-industrial complex and the politics of mass incarceration. His research has been published in The Journal of Race and Policy and by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Belk, who earned the 2009 Outstanding Junior Professor Award and the 2015 James Pinckney Kinard and Lee Wicker Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching, teaches courses on American government, black politics, public policy, race and ethnic politics in the United States, and African-American studies. He has collaborated with Political Science Professor Scott Huffmon on several projects for the Social & Behavioral Research Lab, which conducts the widely respected Winthrop Poll. Together, they have constructed groundbreaking surveys on African-American political attitudes in South Carolina and across the entire southern region.

Frequently sought out by journalists and news outlets for his political expertise, Belk provided ongoing commentary for the media during the 2012 Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and for the 2016 presidential race. He explained the historical context for local happenings such as the Friendship Nine’s overturned convictions to national media.

Last updated 12/8/2015


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