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Distinguished Speaker Series

Janus Adams

Janus Adams ’67

Host and Executive Producer, The Janus Adams Show

Major: Theatre


Emmy Award-winning journalist, historian, and bestselling author of eleven books, Dr. Janus Adams is host ofJanus Adams,” the New Public Radio (NPR) show and podcast.

As NPR’s first National Arts Correspondent, she opened the New York News Bureau, covering stories from the funeral of legendary performer and human rights activist, Paul Robeson, and the landmark Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Met, to Buckminster Fuller’s “geodesic dome,” and Native Canadian-American Inuit art.

A news commentator and pioneer of issue-oriented African American and women’s programming, she has hosted her own radio and television talk shows for more than ten years. Her series, “Milestones in African-American Business History,” ran on public radio's Marketplace. For her World of Women’s 100th show, she interviewed Helen Gahagan Douglas—California's first elected Democratic congresswoman—made infamous as the "Pink Lady" by Richard Nixon's red-baiting smear.

A frequent on-air guest, she has appeared on ABC, BET, CBS, CNN, FoxNews, NBC’s Today Show, and WLIB. Her 2016 political debate for the Comedy Cellar featuring Ann Coulter, Sally Kohn, Kathleen Parker and Carol Swain can be seen on CSPAN.org.

With more than 500 articles, essays and columns to her credit, her work has been featured in Essence and Ms. Magazines, The New York Times, Newsday, USA Today and The Washington Post. Her syndicated column ran in Hearst Newspapers for sixteen years. She currently contributes commentary to CBS News and The Huffington Post.

A dynamic speaker, Janus lectures widely on topics rooted in business, social justice, women’s rights and her signature theme: History, Heritage, Hope and Home.™

Building on her success as an author and historian, McDonald’s® licensed her book “Glory Days: 365 Inspired Moments in African-American History” for its Black History Month campaigns. McDonald’s Presents Glory Dayshas reached more than 3.1 million readers.

Janus continues to inspire new audiences with the soaring message of “Glory Days” by performing “Glory Days-in-Concert” with church and college choirs nationwide. Sponsored by Warner Music Group in cooperation with Grammy Award-winning producer Gail Hamilton, “Glory Days-in-Concert” premiered on Nashville’s Music Square with actors Phylicia Rashad, Hattie Winston and Joel Kibble of Take Six.

Janus has been engaged by history and culture since childhood. A northern school desegregation pioneer at eight, she was one of four children selected to break New York’s de facto segregated school bar in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. A classically-trained pianist, she is a graduate New York’s famed High School of Performing Arts, now known as Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Her master’s degree is the nation’s first graduate degree in black studies. Her doctoral chair was author/composer Shirley Graham DuBois—widow of NAACP cofounder and “Father of Pan-Africanism,” Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. She holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Shaw University.

Founding board member of AmistadAmerica (historic replica schooner) and founding member of the Women’s Media Center Advisory Board, Janus volunteers as a mentor and editor for the OpEd Project, which heightens under-represented voices in the public debate.

As a parent of twin daughters with husband, percussionist-composer, Max Roach, Janus founded BackPax—publisher and producer of children’s media—when negative images of race and gender began to taint the lives of her children and their friends. Engaging adventurous young minds™ in history and culture through travel and adventure, BackPax—the first black-owned company featured by the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club—has been awarded the Parent’s Choice “Gold Seal” Award, lauded a “Best of the Best” by the American Library Association, and is considered “100 Best Products Ever!” by curriculum specialists.

As founder of BackPax and Harambee—the first national book club for African American literature and culture—she has changed the publishing landscape for authors and audiences as a “first” in education, business and broadcasting, Janus has committed her life to human rights and social justice.