Robert W. Widell, Jr.

  • Associate Professor and Department Chair
  • Washburn Hall, Rm 109
  • Phone: 401.874.2112
  • Email:


Professor Widell grew up in Auburn, Alabama, and lived in North Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado, before moving to Rhode Island in 2004. He joined the History Department at URI in 2008. When not on campus, Professor Widell can usually be found spending time with his family, including two children, Lily and Abe, and one beagle, Dudley. An avid music fan and erstwhile runner, he also enjoys following the fortunes of the Duke basketball and Auburn football teams.


Professor Widell reads, writes, and teaches about the Black Freedom Struggle, political movements, and the late twentieth-century United States. His current project explores race, incarceration, capital punishment, and organizing through the story of Johnny “Imani” Harris. In addition, Dr. Widell is the coordinator of the history department’s oral history lab.


  • Ph.D., Emory University, 2007
  • M.A., Emory University, 2003
  • B.A., Duke University, 1996

Selected Publications

Birmingham and the Long Black Freedom Struggle, Palgrave MacMillan, Contemporary Black History Series, 2013

“‘The Power Belongs to Us and We Belong to the Revolutionary Age’: The Alabama Black Liberation Front and the Long Reach of the Black Panther Party,” in Liberated Territory: Untold Local Perspectives on the Black Panther Party, 2008.

CV Attached