Our Research

Leaders in Social Justice

The Payne Center’s featured HBCU Faculty are top academics at historically Black colleges and universities who are fighting for social justice through research and activism.  We  collaborate with scholars at HBCUs, national policy experts, and community advocates to promote policy research that advances social justice for Black Americans. Our team of fellows work to highlight the latest research from the US’s top experts while contributing original research and policy analysis.

Payne Center Research Hub

Explore scholarship from HBCU faculty on urgent contemporary issues such as racial bias in technology, environmental justice, educational equity, civil rights, health disparities, and economic advancement for Black American communities. …Visit Now

Featured HBCU Faculty

L. Darnell Weeden

Roberson King Professor of Law – Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University


 J.D. University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, 1975

 B.A. Journalism & Political Science, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, 1972

Professor L. Darnell Weeden is a prolific scholar of constitutional law with expertise in civil rights, election law, torts, criminal procedure, school integration, and immigration law.

A frequent speaker at universities and law schools, Professor Weeden’s scholarship has made a significant contribution to the legal profession in a wide variety of subjects. Learn More.

Prof. Weeden's Publications[email protected]

Dr. Michael O. Adams

Professor of Political Science and Public Administration – Barbara Jordan—Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University


 Ph.D. Political Science, The Atlanta University

 M.A. Political Science, The Atlanta University

 B.A. Political Science, Tougaloo College

Michael Adams, Ph.D is a political scientist who specializes in electoral politics, redistricting and voting rights. Dr. Adams is the Chair of the Political Science Department and also holds the position of the Director of MPA program at the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. As the interim Chair of the Political Science Department, Dr. Adams has pressed forward with a ‘student-centric’ approach to the entire operation within the Department. Learn More.

Dr. Adam's Publications[email protected]

Dr. Kesha Baptiste-Roberts

Associate Professor – School of Community Health & Policy, Morgan State University


 Ph.D. Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD

 M.P.H. Community Health- Epidemiology, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, Saint Louis, MO

 B.S. Biology, Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA

Dr. Baptiste-Roberts has published research in the areas of maternal and child health, women’s health, type 2 diabetes, obesity and racial/ethnic health disparities. Her early work was primarily focused on pregnancy-related factors and their influence on cardiometabolic outcomes for both mother and offspring along the life-course. Her current research efforts are focused on health among sexual minority women and substance abuse. Learn More.

[email protected]

Dr. Kimberly D. Erwin

Associate Dean – Student Success & English Education College of Education, North Carolina A&T University


 Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

 M.S. Elementary Education, North Carolina A&T State University

 B.S. Early Childhood and Elementary Education, North Carolina A&T State University

Dr. Erwin’s research focuses on African American males at the elementary level and the preparation of teacher-leaders who aspire to transform education by utilizing research-based pedagogical practices that meet the needs of diverse students. As such, her research is grounded in the scholarship of Funds of Knowledge and its dimensions: 1) learning environment, 2) P-12 student learning/school experiences, 3) knowledge construction (student), 4) knowledge construction (teacher), and 5) social/academic integration. This research examines instructional approaches that optimize the growth and development of P-12 students. Learn More.

[email protected]

Dr. Richard D. Schulterbrandt Gragg III

Professor of Environmental Science and Policy – School of The Environment, Florida A&M University


 Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

 M.S. Elementary Education, North Carolina A&T State University

 B.S. Early Childhood and Elementary Education, North Carolina A&T State University

Richard D. Schulterbrandt Gragg III, Ph.D. is a Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the Florida A&M University School of the Environment. His teaching, research and service interests include: environmental justice and health disparities; environmental and sustainability science; community-based participatory research; and environmental and public health policy. Learn More.