Jakobi Williams was born and raised on the south side of Chicago (Englewood). Prior to joining the faculty at Indiana University, he served as an associate professor of History at the University of Kentucky, an adjunct professor at UCLA, and spent one year as a Chancellor Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He received his BA in History from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, his MA in African American Studies and PhD in History both from UCLA.
Dr. Jakobi Williams is the Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor at Indiana University-Bloomington. He is Chair of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and holds a joint appointment in the Department of History. He is a Civil Rights, Black Power, Social Justice, and African American history scholar. He has provided hundreds of invited lectures domestically and abroad on the subjects of Civil Rights and social justice movements. Dr. Williams has served as an consultant regarding Civil Rights issues and history for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, The National Civil Rights Museum, The Social Justice Initiative at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and the Kairos-Center for Religion, Rights, and Social Justice—which helped to found the New Poor People’s Campaign led by Rev. Barber. His most recent book, From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago, was published by the University of North Carolina Press under the prestigious John Hope Franklin Series and the book was the foundation for the script to the Warner Brothers film, Judas and the Black Messiah.
His other peer reviewed publications have appeared in the Journal for Civil and Human Rights; Black Perspectives; Black Women, Gender, and Families; Journal of Pan African Studies; University of Georgia Press; University of Wisconsin Press; and the New Press. His work can also be found in Jacobin Magazine, Tikkun, Mother Jones, Gawker, Vox, and the Indianapolis Star. Dr. Williams has appeared in dozens of media programs in radio, television, newspaper, and podcast formats. A brief list includes, NBC News, Time, Vox, WXIN Fox59 Morning News Show, WISH-TV (Channel 8 Indianapolis), WAVE 3 (Louisville), WPTA-TV (Ft Wayne), 89.1FM NPR Fort Wayne-Lake Shore Public Radio, Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Recorder, the National Humanities Center’s Nerds in the Woods Podcast, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Hard History Podcast.
Dr. Williams most recent awards include the Mellon Foundation funded Black Metropolitan Research Consortium fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the National Humanities Center fellowship, and the Big Ten Academic Alliance-Academic Leadership Program award.
Dr. Williams is completing two books, Neighborhoods First and Global Call of Power to the People. Both books examine the monumental impact of the Black Panther Party (BPP) on non-African American groups both domestically and abroad as a model for grassroots community organizing to address disparities and disadvantages. Moreover, both books demonstrate why and how groups emulated the BPP as a means for political and social change and to highlight the transnational importance of African American grassroots political activism. Neighborhoods First examines organizations in Chicago that established the multiracial original Rainbow Coalition in 1968. Global Call of Power to the People is a study of groups in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Palestine, Italy, and India that did not have any direct contact with the BPP but chose to create movements in their countries modeled after the Panthers grassroots community organizing and racial coalition strategies.