Prof. James Taylor

James Lance Taylor


Full-Time Faculty


Professor James Lance Taylor is from Glen Cove, Long Island. He is author of the book Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama, which earned 2012 "Outstanding Academic Title" - Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. (Ranked top 2 percent of 25,000 books submitted and top 8 percent of 7,300 actually accepted for review by the American Library Association). Rated “Best of the Best.” The hardback version sold out in the U.S. and the paperback version was published in 2014.

He is a former President of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS), an important organization of African American, African, and Afro Caribbean political scientists in the United States, 2009-2011. Taylor also served as Chair of the Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco from 2012-2015, and Faculty Coordinator of the African American Studies Program for 2015-2017. He served as the Chair for the “Committee on the Status of Blacks” in Political Science for the American Political Science Association (APSA), 2016-2017.

Professor Taylor is currently writing and researching a book with the working title, Peoples Temple, Jim Jones, and California Black Politics. He expects the book to be completed with a 2018-2019 publication range. The book is a study of the Peoples Temple movement and African American political history in the state of California.

He co-edited and published in Something's in the Air: Race and the Legalization of Marijuana, with Katherine Tate (UC Irvine) and Mark Sawyer (UCLA), focusing on controversies concerning race, social justice, and marijuana legalization in the state of California.

Prof. Taylor has published articles on subjects such as Father Divine’s International Peace Mission Movement, Dr. Betty Shabazz (wife of Malcolm X), Dr. Benjamin Chavis (then, Muhammad), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Black Nationalism,” The post-9/11 relationship of Muslims in Northern California and the United States to Black Social and Political History, San Francisco Sun Reporter publisher Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, and on the Peoples Temple Movement in Northern and Southern California.

These works have been published by Harvard University Press and Oxford University Press, Baylor University Press, the State University of New York University Press (SUNY), San Diego State University (Jonestown Institute), and The University Press of Mississippi, and leading independent academic publishers.

Prof. Taylor’s scholarship internationally was acknowledged through his Keynote invitation at the 2014 National Indigenous Studies Conference (AIATSIS) in Canberra, Australia, where he presented the lecture, “Taking Intercommunalism Seriously: Black Power, Indigeneity, and Peoples' Struggles for Recognition and Anti-Racist Democracy."

He has taught previously as a Visiting Associate Professor of political science at Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain and political science and African American and African Diaspora Studies at University of California, Berkeley.

His most recent published article is “King the Sellout or Sellin’ Out King?”: Hip Hop’s Martin Luther King,” in Dream and Legacy: Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Post-Civil Rights era (2017).

Demand for Prof. Taylor’s political analysis, expertise, and opinion has been sought internationally by leading media organizations in Dublin, Ireland, Canberra, Australia, Toronto, Canada, and London, England. He serves as a political commentator on San Francisco, U.S national, California, and U.S. Black politics on behalf of the University of San Francisco's Media Relations Office and appears regularly on San Francisco News TV with KRON 4, FOX KTVU local, and ABC 7. He is a frequent guest on NPR/KQED with Michael Krasny and other programs, and has appeared counting so far eight times at the California Commonwealth Club in San Francisco aside leading figures in law, media, and politics.

He is the guest political commentator for the Carl Nelson Show on WOL-AM 1450, Radio One, Washington, DC.

In 2015, Prof. Taylor addressed hundreds of California Law Enforcement Officers at the International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership in San Francisco (USF) on the topic of “The Black Lives Matter Movement” and Law Enforcement and currently serves as a committee member for two Executive Level committees (Bias and Community Engagement) (SFPD Command Staff level) for the Mayor’s Office of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Commission’s mandates to implement the Obama Department of Justice Findings and Recommendations on the operations of the San Francisco Police Department.

Prof. Taylor also served as moderator for two public comment and town hall events on behalf of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Police Commission on the policy consideration of implementing Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs), also known as tasers in 2017. He has also served as a policy consultant for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The San Francisco Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) and California Historical Society, the Hayward Black Historical Society and many local community groups and organizations call on Taylor’s expertise in his fields. He has given public lectures at Northwestern University, The Ohio State University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and DePauw University (Indiana).

Prof. Taylor is Vice President of the San Francisco Achievers Scholarship non-profit on behalf of African American males graduating from the San Francisco Unified School District.

His teaching and research scholarly interests are in religion and politics in the United States, race and ethnic politics, African American political history, social movements, political ideology, law and public policy, Black political leadership, and the U.S. Presidency. He lives with his family in Oakland, California.

Research Areas

  • Peoples Temple movement
  • African American political history
  • Religion and politics in the United States
  • Race and ethnic politics
  • Social movements
  • Political ideology
  • Law and public policy
  • U.S. Presidency


  • Chair, Department of Politics
  • President, National Conference of Black Political Scientists (2009-2011)


  • PhD, University of Southern California (USC)
  • MA, University of Southern California (USC)
  • BA, Pepperdine University

Prior Experience

  • Visiting Associate Professor of political science, Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain
  • Visiting Associate Professor of political science and African American Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • Policy Consultant, San Francisco Human Rights Commission and San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Awards & Distinctions

  • Outstanding Academic Title (2012)

Selected Publications

  • Taylor, J.L., (forthcoming). Peoples Temple, Jim Jones, and California Black Politics. Pennsylvania State University Press.

  • Taylor, J.L., (2016). “Yes the Clintons Failed Black People, but Donald, You're No Savior.” The Guardian.

  • Tate, K., Taylor, J.L., and Sawyer, M., eds. (2013). Something's In the Air: Race, Crime, and the Legalization of Marijuana. New York: Routledge.

  • Taylor, J.L., (2011). Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcom X to Barack Obama. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publisher.