Top Critical Race Theory Influencers

In today’s news, Critical Race Theory has become a hot political topic. It seems as if CRT burst on the scene overnight. However, Critical Race has been around for several decades. In this introduction to Critical Race Theory, I will briefly explain what Critical Race Theory (CRT) is and how it originated. I will also distinguish it from theories that it has been confused with. Finally, I will attempt to rescue CRT from several misunderstandings or false interpretations by its critics.

Top Critical Race Theory Influencers

Critical Race Theory: What It Is and What It Is Not

The Origin of Critical Race Theory

In the 1970s, a group of legal scholars realized that the Law was not completely neutral. Law is often created and interpreted in such a way that some social groups have an advantage over others. This realization led to a deconstruction of Law and a critique of the origin and function of it. This deconstruction and critique of the Law was called Critical Legal Studies (CLS).

Shortly after the development of CLS, a few Black and white legal scholars realized that CLS failed to address the role that racism plays in the construction of some of our laws. Derrick Bell , Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw , and Alan D. Freeman (a white scholar) began to publish essays that addressed the race issue in legal studies and Law. Their work and the work of many others who followed was called CRT. In fact, it was Kimberlé Crenshaw who coined the term.

Not only was CRT a response to elements of racism in the construction, interpretation and application of some laws, it was also a response to the Civil Rights Movement and the liberalism embedded in CLS. Regarding the Civil Rights Movement, CRT explores the ways in which laws can be racially manipulated even after the adoption of new civil rights laws. The theorists who work in CRT noticed that even after civil rights legislation, Black people were still victims of patterns of inequality. Regarding the liberalism of CLS, CRT attempted to revive a form of race-consciousness.

With its explicit embrace of race-consciousness, Critical Race Theory aims to reexamine the terms by which race and racism have been negotiated in American consciousness, and to recover and revitalize the radical tradition of race-consciousness among African-Americans and other peoples of color—a tradition that was discarded when integration, assimilation and the ideal of color-blindness became the official norms of racial enlightenment.

— Crenshaw, Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement

The embrace of race consciousness is often interpreted by white conservatives and even some liberals as racism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Racism requires more than race-consciousness. It requires hatred of another race and the economic, political, social, and symbolic power to dehumanize and oppress the hated race. Race-consciousness merely refers to the social fact that people of different races are situated differently in our society. It is not the case that the playing field is even for all Americans. Knowledge of the way in which the playing field is tilted for the advantage of one group over another requires recognition of the groups involved. Therefore, color-blindness is merely an ideal at this moment. To not see color is to ignore real race-based inequalities in our society.

Critical Race Theory is Not Marxism

Many opponents of CRT have equated it with Marxism. This identification of CRT with Marxism simply indicates a critical failure to understand both CRT and Marxism. These are two very different forms of analysis addressing two different social problems. The two theories are distinguished by the type of questions raised at their origins. Marxism does not raise the question of racism, race-consciousness, racial discrimination, etc. It has its origins in questions about economic exploitation. Marxism is self-defined as a critique of political economy and does not address race. The entire system of thought is a critique of the function of capitalism and the form of social organization produced by capitalism.

CRT, as we have seen, originates with questions of racialized inequalities and the role of Law in creating and perpetuating these inequalities. However, it is the case that some of the legal scholars who work in CLS may from time to time apply a Marxist critique to the role of Law in supporting economic inequalities. This, however, is a separate issue from the issues addressed by CRT. While some critical race theorists may also be Marxist, CRT itself is not Marxist. Critics who identify CRT with Marxism are merely trying to delegitimize CRT by associating it with a form of theory that Americans tend to hate and know very little about.

Critical Race Theory and Other Academic Forms of Race Theory

Both opponents of CRT and those in the media who have given the subject so much attention of late tend to conflate CRT with any critique or analysis of racism. One of the most striking things about the recent attack on CRT is the claim that it is being taught to our children in K-12. This is completely false. CRT is exclusively taught in law schools and in some colleges and universities. To discuss slavery or racism in K-12 does not amount to teaching CRT. It is impossible to teach American history adequately without discussing slavery and racism. Any presentation of American history must necessarily include the Black experience which is the history of the struggle against slavery and racism. To omit this side of American history is to insist on teaching a false narrative and calling it history.

Finally, just as legal scholars recognized the role that systemic racism played in the constitution, interpretation, and application of Law, scholars from a wide range of other areas of knowledge recognized the same in their disciplines. Hence, after the Civil Rights Movement, the critique of racism in its overt and covert forms became an object of study in many areas. This was largely due to the efforts of Black scholars who became aware that most white scholars tended to ignore issues of race and Black history altogether. In the 1970s Black Studies emerged in many colleges and universities as an effort to tell the whole story about American history.

Later, other academic disciplines began to include hitherto excluded Black history and thought. Today, there are many areas of inquiry that examine systemic racism in its many forms. All of these areas of knowledge have been labeled by the media and the critics as CRT. It is important to be aware of the difference in origin of these bodies of knowledge. Nevertheless, they all share with CRT the goal of understanding racism and how it continues to manifest itself in contemporary American society.

CRT Teaches Students to Love America, Not Hate It

Many of the critics of CRT claim that it teaches children to hate America. This is a strange claim. When I hear the term America it makes me think about the American people, not some abstract idea called America. If I think about the American people in their concrete daily lives, I am forced to recognize the problems by which the people are burdened. I am forced by my view of the daily lives of the American people to recognize the inequalities from which some of them suffer. Love for America cannot be separated from love of the American people. Love for the American people compels me to want to change the conditions that cause inequality among them. Hence, CRT has its origins in love for America, an America that is not merely an abstraction. At the end of the day, CRT is a form of self-critique. Such a critique is absolutely necessary for the sake of progress. The individual human being can become a better person only if he or she can engage in self-critique or self-criticism. This self-critique reveals to us our flaws so that we may have the opportunity to overcome them. It is only by recognizing our faults that we can reconcile and achieve real progress. CRT gives America the opportunity to face its faults and overcome them. That sounds a lot more like love than hate.

Top Critical Race Theory Influencers 2000-2020

Methodology:

In what follows, we offer a broadly defined look at influential race theorists (see below) over the last 20 years. Based on our ranking methodology, these individuals have demonstrated significant academic impact in a variety of disciplines including critical race theory and other closely related disciplines, between the years of 2000–2020. Influence can be achieved through a variety of means. Some scholars have pioneered areas of the field, while others may have gained influence through popularity or activism — but all are academicians. The ranked order does not imply the level of influence in CRT specifically. Rather, these are influential scholars whose writings have impacted conversations around race, whether this is their primary focus or not.

We chose to rank influential scholars outside of the narrow focus of critical race theory (CRT) because critical race theory is a specific area of focus in legal studies, but there’s a current misrepresentation of what CRT is in the media. Since the misrepresentation of CRT is what we’re up against, we wanted to show the broader array of influential scholars from directely related areas of study such as: social and cultural anthropology, sociology, philosophy of race, African studies, Black feminism, Black liberation theology, and more, as well as those studying CRT proper. Indeed, our interdisciplinary approach not only shows a much richer gallery of influential scholars examining issues of race, but in general it brings to the forefront some scholars and theories that informed the creation of CRT in legal studies. While there’s considerable overlap in many of these scholars’ influence in multiple fields of study, we’ve categoriezed the listing to show more precisely why they are featured in our list of CRT influencers.

There are a few names on the list that may appear to be tangential at first glance. Sociologists and anthropologists on our list have impacted the general area of race studies. They have been widely cited for the relevant aspects of their works, so we’ve included them on our list. Perhaps more interestingly, several influential gender theorists are featured on our list because the nature of their work revealed striking parallels between feminism and gender theories, and race theory, particularly at the intersection of identity and socially-constructed inequality.

We are open to adding to and refining this list as worthy candidates are illuminated. We recognize that race, feminism, and gender studies are all rapidly evolving areas of study today. Email us

Read more about our methodologies

Influencers categorized by relevant areas of studies

Top Critical Race Theorists

  1. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
    #1

    Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

    1959 - Present (62 years)

    #9344 person's overall influence

    Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is a lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and major civil rights advocate. Currently she holds the position of professor at the UCLA School of Law, as well as at Columbia Law School. Crenshaw completed her undergraduate education at Cornell University before receiving her JD from Harvard law School in 1984, and later a master of laws from the University of Wisconsin.

  2. Patricia Hill Collins
    #2

    Patricia Hill Collins

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #1966 person's overall influence

    American sociologist Patrician Hill Collins currently holds the title of University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She previously was a professor of the University of Cincinnati (where she was also head of the Department of African-American Studies). Collins also holds the distinction of being the 100th president of the American Sociological Association, the first African-American woman to do so. Collins completed her BA in sociology at Brandeis University in 1965, her MA in social science education at Harvard in 1970, and her PhD at Brandeis in 1984.

  3. David Theo Goldberg
    #3

    David Theo Goldberg

    1952 - Present (69 years)

    #9017 person's overall influence

    David Theo Goldberg is the director of the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute, and a Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Anthropology for the University of California at Irvine. He studied economics, politics, and philosophy from the University of Cape Town before earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from the City University of New York.

  4. Charles W. Mills
    #4

    Charles W. Mills

    1951 - Present (70 years)

    #16886 person's overall influence

    Charles Mills was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center City University of New York, as well as a critically acclaimed philosopher on race. He earned his B.Sc. in physics from the University of the West Indies and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.

  5. #5

    Mari Matsuda

    1956 - Present (65 years)

    #19454 person's overall influence

    Mari J. Matsuda is an American lawyer, activist, and law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. She was the first tenured female Asian American law professor in the United States, at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1998 and one of the leading voices in critical race theory since its inception. Matsuda returned to Richardson in the fall of 2008. Prior to her return, Matsuda was a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in the fields of torts, constitutional law, legal history, f...

  6. #6

    Gloria Ladson-Billings

    1947 - Present (74 years)

    #31666 person's overall influence

    Gloria Ladson-Billings was born in 1947. She is best known for her book, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, and her work to reduce the education disparities faced by African American children. She earned her master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington and her Ph.D from Stanford University.

  7. #7

    Richard Delgado

    1939 - Present (82 years)

    #47284 person's overall influence

    Richard Delgado is an American legal scholar who teaches civil rights and critical race theory University of Alabama School of Law. He has written and co-authored numerous articles and books, many with his wife, Jean Stefancic. He is considered one of several "founders" of Critical Race Theory, is also notable for his scholarship on hate speech, and for introducing storytelling into legal scholarship.

  8. Derrick Bell
    #8

    Derrick Bell

    1930 - 2011 (81 years)

    #9737 person's overall influence

    Derrick Albert Bell Jr. was an American lawyer, professor, and civil rights activist. In 1971, he became the first tenured African-American professor of law at Harvard Law School, and he is often credited as one of the originators of critical race theory along with Richard Delgado, Charles Lawrence, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia Williams. He was a visiting professor at New York University School of Law from 1991 until his death. He was also a dean of the University of Oregon School of Law.

  9. Patricia J. Williams
    #9

    Patricia J. Williams

    1951 - Present (70 years)

    #16748 person's overall influence

    Patricia J. Williams is an American legal scholar and a proponent of critical race theory, a school of legal thought that emphasizes race as a fundamental determinant of the American legal system.Early life Williams received her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College in 1972, and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1975.

  10. #10

    Faye V. Harrison

    1951 - Present (70 years)

    #1484321 person's overall influence

    Faye Harrison is a professor of African-American Studies and Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate for the Program on Women & Gender in Global Perspectives, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and the Center for African Studies, all for the University of Illinois. She earned her B.A. from Brown University and a Ph.D from Stanford University.

  11. Sally Haslanger
    #11

    Sally Haslanger

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #11937 person's overall influence

    Sally Haslanger, currently appointed the Ford Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), completed her undergraduate education at Reed College in 1977, and earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. Currently one of the most influential people in philosophy, Haslanger has previously held appointments in the Ivy league, at Princeton University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

  12. Juana María Rodríguez
    #12

    Juana María Rodríguez

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #813435 person's overall influence

    Juana María Rodríguez is a professor of Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarly writing in queer theory, critical race theory, and performance studies highlights the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and embodiment in constructing subjectivity.

  1. #1

    Duncan Kennedy

    1942 - Present (79 years)

    #5109 person's overall influence

    Duncan Kennedy was the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School until 2015. Now emeritus, he is best known as one of the founders of the Critical Legal Studies movement in legal thought.

  2. #2

    Peter Gabel

    1947 - Present (74 years)

    #40744 person's overall influence

    Peter Gabel is an American law academic and associate editor of Tikkun, a bi-monthly Jewish critique of politics, culture, and society and has written a number of articles for the magazine on subjects ranging from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution to the creationism/evolution controversy . Gabel was a founder of the Institute for Labor and Mental Health in Oakland, California, and is close to the critical legal studies movement. He has published more than a dozen articles in law journals such as the Harvard Law Review and Texas Law Review, focusing on the role of law in ...

  3. #3

    Gary Peller

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #37179 person's overall influence

    Gary Peller is Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a prominent member of the critical legal studies and critical race theory movements.Education and early career Peller received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University in 1977 and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School where he served as a member of the Harvard Law Review. Peller then clerked for Morris Lasker, a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He is currently a member of the Maryland state bar.

  4. #4

    Kendall Thomas

    #221710 person's overall influence

    Kendall Thomas is Nash Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture, at Columbia Law School.He won a Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin.Works Thomas,Kendall. Seriam os direitos dos transgêneros direitos Inumanos? RDFD, 2017, volume=22, series=1, pages=4-23http://revistaeletronicardfd.unibrasil.com.br/index.php/rdfd/article/view/1032x https://doi.org/10.25192/issn.1982-0496.rdfd.v22i11032

Race Theory

  1. Linda Martín Alcoff
    #1

    Linda Martín Alcoff

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #30001 person's overall influence

    Panama-born Linda Martin Alcoff is currently appointed as a professor of philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Alcoff earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1980 at Georgia State University, as well as her MA in 1983, and in 1987 earned her PhD in philosophy at Brown University. In her career, Alcoff has also held positions at Kalamazoo College, Syracuse University, Cornell University, and Brown University, among others.

  2. Mustafa Emirbayer
    #2

    Mustafa Emirbayer

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #28239 person's overall influence

    Mustafa Emirbayer Is a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He graduated with his B.A. from the University of California, Davis and earned his M.A. and Ph.D from Harvard University.

  3. #3

    Howard Winant

    1946 - Present (75 years)

    #32521 person's overall influence

    Howard Winant is an American sociologist and race theorist. Professor Winant is best known for developing the theory of racial formation along with Michael Omi. Winant is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Winant's research and teachings revolve around race and racism, comparative historical sociology, political sociology, social theory, and human rights.

  4. Janet E. Helms
    #4

    Janet E. Helms

    #35222 person's overall influence

    Janet Helms is a research psychologist currently August Long Professor of Counseling Psychology at Boston University. She received her B.A. as well as M.A. in Psychology at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Iowa State University.

  5. Matthew Barnett Robinson
    #5

    Matthew Barnett Robinson

    1970 - Present (51 years)

    #299451 person's overall influence

    Matthew Barnett Robinson is a full professor and criminologist for Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. from Florida State University. His research interests have included social justice, race and crime, criminological theory, the death penalty, the “war on drugs”, crime mapping and white-collar crime. He has published more than twenty books, including The Drug Trade and the Criminal Justice System, Crime Mapping and Spatial Aspects of Crime: Theory and Practice, Death Nation: The Experts Explain American Capital Punishment, and Greed is Good: Maximization and El...

  6. Judith Butler
    #6

    Judith Butler

    1956 - Present (65 years)

    #332 person's overall influence

    Judith Butler is the Maxine Ellio Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy at Yale University in 1978, and her PhD at Yale in 1984. In addition to UC Berkeley, Butler has taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and the University of Amsterdam.

  7. Ulf Hannerz
    #7

    Ulf Hannerz

    1942 - Present (79 years)

    #18938 person's overall influence

    Ulf Hannerz is an emeritus professor of social anthropology at Stockholm University, which is where he also earned his Ph.D. As an anthropologist, he has focused his research on urban and media anthropology. His research has taken him to locations in the United States, the Caribbean, and West Africa.

  8. Ibram X. Kendi
    #8

    Ibram X. Kendi

    1982 - Present (39 years)

    #24235 person's overall influence

    Ibram Xolani Kendi is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America. In July 2020, he assumed the position of director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

African Studies

  1. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    #1

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #6265 person's overall influence

    Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, professor, historian, filmmaker, and public intellectual who serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is a Trustee of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He rediscovered the earliest African-American novels, long forgotten, and has published extensively on appreciating African-American literature as part of the Western canon.

  2. Molefi Kete Asante
    #2

    Molefi Kete Asante

    1942 - Present (79 years)

    #3157 person's overall influence

    Molefi Kete Asante is an American professor and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African-American studies, African studies, and communication studies. He is currently professor in the Department of Africology at Temple University, where he founded the PhD program in African-American Studies. He is president of the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies.

  3. Lewis Gordon
    #3

    Lewis Gordon

    1962 - Present (59 years)

    #11060 person's overall influence

    Lewis Ricardo Gordon is an American philosopher at the University of Connecticut who works in the areas of Africana philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, social and political theory, postcolonial thought, theories of race and racism, philosophies of liberation, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion. He has written particularly extensively on Africana and black existentialism, postcolonial phenomenology, race and racism, and on the works and thought of W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon. His most recent book is titled: What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction

  4. Anita L. Allen
    #4

    Anita L. Allen

    1953 - Present (68 years)

    #212253 person's overall influence

    Anita L. Allen current holds the titles of the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and is Vice Provost of Faculty. Within the university, Allen has also worked with the bioethics department, the Africana Studies program, and the gender, sexuality, and women’s studies program. Outside of the University of Pennsylvania, Allen has also taught at places including Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Tel Aviv University. Allen received her BA from the New College of Florid...

  5. #5

    John Comaroff

    1945 - Present (76 years)

    #159211 person's overall influence

    John Comaroff is the Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, and Oppenheimer Research Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University. Comaroff also serves as a research professor at the American Bar Foundation. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town and his doctorate from the London School of Economics.

  6. #6

    Caroline Elkins

    1969 - Present (52 years)

    #41285 person's overall influence

    Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, a visiting professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and the founding director of Harvard's Center for African Studies.

  7. Manning Marable
    #7

    Manning Marable

    1950 - 2011 (61 years)

    #9060 person's overall influence

    William Manning Marable was an American professor of public affairs, history and African-American Studies at Columbia University. Marable founded and directed the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. He authored several texts and was active in progressive political causes. At the time of his death, he had completed a biography of human rights activist Malcolm X titled Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention , for which Marable won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.

  8. Jean Comaroff
    #8

    Jean Comaroff

    1946 - Present (75 years)

    #16941 person's overall influence

    Jean Comaroff is Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University. She is an expert on the effects of colonialism on people in Southern Africa.University of Chicago and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.

  9. Toyin Falola
    #9

    Toyin Falola

    1953 - Present (68 years)

    #14158 person's overall influence

    Toyin Omoyeni Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin. Falola earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in History at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife , in Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and of the Nigerian Academy of Letters. Falola is author and editor of more than one hundred books, and he is the general editor of the Cambria African Studies Series . Falola served as the president of the African Studies Association in 2014 and 2015.

  10. #10

    Hazel Carby

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #20227 person's overall influence

    Hazel Vivian Carby is Professor Emerita of African American Studies and of American StudiesYale University.Early life and education Hazel Carby was born of Jamaican and Welsh parents in Okehampton, Devon, UK, on 15 January 1948. She earned a BA degree in English and history from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1970, then a PGCE in 1972, at the Institute of Education, London University. She taught high school from 1972 to 1979, then went back to university, at Birmingham University Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, where she gained a M.A and a Ph.D .

  11. #11

    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #47444 person's overall influence

    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is a Malawian historian, literary critic, novelist, short-story writer and blogger at The Zeleza Post. He was president of the African Studies Association. He was the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Quinnipiac University. He is the current Vice Chancellor of the United States International University Africa, located in Nairobi, Kenya.

  12. #12

    Stephen Adebanji Akintoye

    1935 - Present (86 years)

    #18713 person's overall influence

    Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, also known as S. Banji Akintoye , is a Nigerian-born academic, historian and writer. He attended Christ's School Ado Ekiti, Nigeria from 1951–1955, and studied history at the University College , Ibadan , and doctoral studies from 1963-1966 at the University of Ibadan, where he was awarded a PhD in History in 1966. He taught at the History Department at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he became a professor and Director of the Institute of African Studies from 1974-1977. He has also taught African History in universities in the United States includ

  13. Michèle Lamont
    #13

    Michèle Lamont

    1957 - Present (64 years)

    #82339 person's overall influence

    Canadian-born Michèle Lamont currently holds the title of Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University, as well as Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She has also held professorial positions at the University of Texas at Austin and Princeton University, and visiting roles at a variety of international institutions. Beyond being a professor, Lamont served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association from 2016-2017, chair to the Council for European St

  14. Eddie Glaude
    #14

    Eddie Glaude

    1968 - Present (53 years)

    #82302 person's overall influence

    Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is an American academic. He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where he is also the Chair of the Center for African American Studies and the Chair of the Department of African American Studies. He is the author of the 2020 book Begin Again, which is about James Baldwin and the history of American politics.

  15. Frieda Ekotto
    #15

    Frieda Ekotto

    1959 - Present (62 years)

    #570122 person's overall influence

    Frieda Ekotto is a Francophone African woman novelist and literary critic. She is Professor of AfroAmerican and African Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan and is currently the Hunting Family Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities. She is best known for her novels, which focus on gender and sexuality in Sub-Saharan Africa, and her work on the writer Jean Genet, particular her political analysis of his prison writing, and his impact as a race theorist in the Francophone world. Her research and teaching focuses on literature, film, race and law in the Francophone...

  16. Raymond Winbush
    #16

    Raymond Winbush

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #130675 person's overall influence

    Raymond Arnold Winbush aka Tikari Bioko is an American-African scholar and activist known for his systems-thinking approaches to understanding the impact of racism/white supremacy on the global African community. His writings, consultations, and research have been instrumental in understanding developmental stages in Black males, public policy and its connection to compensatory justice, relationships between Black males and females, infusion of African studies into school curricula, and the impact of hip hop culture on the contemporary American landscape. He is currently Research Professor ...

  17. #17

    Jennifer Hochschild

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #168223 person's overall influence

    Jennifer Hochschild is the Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D from Yale University. She has specialized in studies regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, immigration, truth, and public policy.

  18. #18

    Paula D. McClain

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #52026 person's overall influence

    Paula Denice McClain , is a professor of political science, public policy, and African and African American Studies at Duke University and is a widely quoted expert on racism and race relations. Her research focuses primarily on racial minority-group politics and urban politics. She is co-director of Duke's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences, and director of the American Political Science Association's Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, which is hosted by Duke and funded by the National Science Foundation and Duke.

  19. #19

    Valeria Sinclair-Chapman

    1969 - Present (52 years)

    #379101 person's overall influence

    Valeria Sinclair-Chapman is an American political scientist, currently a professor of political science and African-American studies at Purdue University. Sinclair-Chapman studies American political institutions, the representation of minority groups in the United States Congress, and minority political participation, particularly how excluded groups come to be included in American politics.

  20. Dara Strolovitch
    #20

    Dara Strolovitch

    #711280 person's overall influence

    Dara Strolovitch is an American political scientist, currently a professor of gender and sexuality studies, African American studies, and political science at Princeton University. She studies the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the context of intersectional societal inequality, and the representation of those who are marginalized in multiple overlapping ways.

  21. Naomi Murakawa
    #21

    Naomi Murakawa

    #147715 person's overall influence

    Naomi Murakawa is a political scientist and associate professor of African-American studies for Princeton University. She earned a B.A. in women’s studies from Columbia University, an M.Sc. in social policy from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.

  22. Nadia Brown
    #22

    Nadia Brown

    #239901 person's overall influence

    Nadia E. Brown is a University Scholar and Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Purdue University. She earned a B.A. in political science from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in political science, with a concentration in women and politics from Rutgers University. She later went on to earn a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.

  23. Shaun L. Gabbidon
    #23

    Shaun L. Gabbidon

    1967 - Present (54 years)

    #77402 person's overall influence

    Shaun L. Gabbidon was born in England. He earned a Ph.D in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

  24. #24

    Kim F. Hall

    1961 - Present (60 years)

    #749186 person's overall influence

    Kim F. Hall is Lucyle Hook Professor of English and Professor of Africana Studies at Barnard College. She is an expert on black feminist studies, critical race theory, early modern and Renaissance literature.

Philosophy of Race

  1. Cornel West
    #1

    Cornel West

    1953 - Present (68 years)

    #1145 person's overall influence

    Cornel West currently holds the title of Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard Divinity School. Prior to this, he has held positions at Princeton University (where he maintains the title of Professor Emeritus), Union Theological Seminary, Yale University, and the University of Paris. West earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University in 1973, and completed his PhD at Princeton University in 1980, making him the first African-American to earn a PhD in philosophy from Princeton.

  2. Kwame Anthony Appiah
    #2

    Kwame Anthony Appiah

    1954 - Present (67 years)

    #3420 person's overall influence

    Currently holding a professor appointment at the New York University Department of Philosophy and School of Law, Kwame Anthony Appiah is an influential cultural theorist and philosopher. Appiah completed both his undergraduate studies and PhD in philosophy at Clare College, Cambridge.

  3. Robert Bernasconi
    #3

    Robert Bernasconi

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #6327 person's overall influence

    Robert Bernasconi is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from the School of English and American Studies and a D.Phil at Sussex University. His areas of specialization include critical philosophy of race, social and political philosophy, ethics, and nineteenth and twentieth century continental philosophy.

  4. George Yancy
    #4

    George Yancy

    1961 - Present (60 years)

    #40737 person's overall influence

    George Dewey Yancy is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.A. in philosophy from Yale University, an M.A. in Africana Studies, and a Ph.D. from Duquesne University. He is a distinguished Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, a University of Pennsylvania Inaugural Provost’s Distinguished Visiting Faculty Fellow, and the founding editor of the Philosophy of Race book series.

  5. Tina Fernandes Botts
    #5

    Tina Fernandes Botts

    #59328 person's overall influence

    Tina Fernandes Botts is a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College. She is known for her work in legal hermeneutics, intersectionality, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of race . She is the former chair of the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers .

Anthropology

  1. Andrey Korotayev
    #1

    Andrey Korotayev

    1961 - Present (60 years)

    #3027 person's overall influence

    Andrey Korotayev was born in Moscow, Russia in 1961. Korotayev earned his MA from Moscow State University, going on to earn a PhD from Manchester University and a Doctor of Sciences degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a noted anthropologist, demographer, and sociologist. He has authored hundreds of works based on his research.

  2. #2

    Keith Hart

    1943 - Present (78 years)

    #31294 person's overall influence

    Keith Hart is international director of the Human Economy Programme at the University of Pretoria and lives in Paris with his family. His main research has been on economic anthropology, Africa and the African diaspora. He has taught at numerous universities , most significantly at Cambridge where he was director of the African Studies Centre. He has contributed the concept of the informal economy to development studies and has published widely on economic anthropology. He is the author of The Memory Bank . One personal obsession has been the relationship between movement and identity in the

  3. Georges Balandier
    #3

    Georges Balandier

    1920 - 2016 (96 years)

    #12239 person's overall influence

    Georges Balandier was a French sociologist, anthropologist and ethnologist noted for his research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Balandier was born in Aillevillers-et-Lyaumont. He was a professor at the Sorbonne , and is a member of the Center for African Studies , a research center of the École pratique des hautes études . He held for many years the Editorship of Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie and edited the series Sociologie d'Aujourd'hui at Presses Universitaires de France. He died on 5 October 2016 at the age of 95.

  4. #4

    Melville J. Herskovits

    1895 - 1963 (68 years)

    #12307 person's overall influence

    Melville Jean Herskovits was an American anthropologist who helped establish African and African-American studies in American academia. He is known for exploring the cultural continuity from African cultures as expressed in African-American communities. He worked with his wife Frances Herskovits, also an anthropologist, in the field in South America, the Caribbean and Africa. They jointly wrote several books and monographs.

  5. #5

    Andrea Abrams

    #833218 person's overall influence

    Dr. Andrea Abrams is an American anthropologist, Associate Professor, President of the Association of Black Anthropologists and Author of God and Blackness: Race, Gender and Identity in a Middle Class Afrocentric Church. Andrea is currently an associate professor of Anthropology, Gender Studies and African American Studies at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, as well as the Chair of the Gender Studies Program.

Liberation Theology

  1. James H. Cone
    #1

    James H. Cone

    1938 - 2018 (80 years)

    #6360 person's overall influence

    James Hal Cone was an American theologian, best known for his advocacy of black theology and black liberation theology. His 1969 book Black Theology and Black Power provided a new way to comprehensively define the distinctiveness of theology in the black church. His message was that Black Power, defined as black people asserting the humanity that white supremacy denied, was the gospel in America. Jesus came to liberate the oppressed, advocating the same thing as Black Power. He argued that white American churches preached a gospel based on white supremacy, antithetical to the gospel of Jesus.

  2. #2

    Jacquelyn Grant

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #50871 person's overall influence

    Jacquelyn Grant is an American theologian and Methodist minister who is one of the founding developers of womanist theology. Womanist theology addresses theology from the viewpoint of Black women, reflecting on both their perspectives and experience in regards to faith and moral standards. She is currently the Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Grant has written the book White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus .

Ranked by Overall Influence

  1. Cornel West
    #1

    Cornel West

    1953 - Present (68 years)

    #1145 person's overall influence

    Cornel West currently holds the title of Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard Divinity School. Prior to this, he has held positions at Princeton University (where he maintains the title of Professor Emeritus), Union Theological Seminary, Yale University, and the University of Paris. West earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University in 1973, and completed his PhD at Princeton University in 1980, making him the first African-American to earn a PhD in philosophy from Princeton.

  2. Patricia Hill Collins
    #2

    Patricia Hill Collins

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #1966 person's overall influence

    American sociologist Patrician Hill Collins currently holds the title of University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She previously was a professor of the University of Cincinnati (where she was also head of the Department of African-American Studies). Collins also holds the distinction of being the 100th president of the American Sociological Association, the first African-American woman to do so. Collins completed her BA in sociology at Brandeis University in 1965, her MA in social science education at Harvard in 1970, and her PhD at Brandeis in 1984.

  3. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
    #3

    Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

    1959 - Present (62 years)

    #9344 person's overall influence

    Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is a lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and major civil rights advocate. Currently she holds the position of professor at the UCLA School of Law, as well as at Columbia Law School. Crenshaw completed her undergraduate education at Cornell University before receiving her JD from Harvard law School in 1984, and later a master of laws from the University of Wisconsin.

  4. Kwame Anthony Appiah
    #4

    Kwame Anthony Appiah

    1954 - Present (67 years)

    #3420 person's overall influence

    Currently holding a professor appointment at the New York University Department of Philosophy and School of Law, Kwame Anthony Appiah is an influential cultural theorist and philosopher. Appiah completed both his undergraduate studies and PhD in philosophy at Clare College, Cambridge.

  5. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    #5

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #6265 person's overall influence

    Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, professor, historian, filmmaker, and public intellectual who serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is a Trustee of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He rediscovered the earliest African-American novels, long forgotten, and has published extensively on appreciating African-American literature as part of the Western canon.

  6. #6

    Duncan Kennedy

    1942 - Present (79 years)

    #5109 person's overall influence

    Duncan Kennedy was the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School until 2015. Now emeritus, he is best known as one of the founders of the Critical Legal Studies movement in legal thought.

  7. Molefi Kete Asante
    #7

    Molefi Kete Asante

    1942 - Present (79 years)

    #3157 person's overall influence

    Molefi Kete Asante is an American professor and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African-American studies, African studies, and communication studies. He is currently professor in the Department of Africology at Temple University, where he founded the PhD program in African-American Studies. He is president of the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies.

  8. Robert Bernasconi
    #8

    Robert Bernasconi

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #6327 person's overall influence

    Robert Bernasconi is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from the School of English and American Studies and a D.Phil at Sussex University. His areas of specialization include critical philosophy of race, social and political philosophy, ethics, and nineteenth and twentieth century continental philosophy.

  9. Lewis Gordon
    #9

    Lewis Gordon

    1962 - Present (59 years)

    #11060 person's overall influence

    Lewis Ricardo Gordon is an American philosopher at the University of Connecticut who works in the areas of Africana philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, social and political theory, postcolonial thought, theories of race and racism, philosophies of liberation, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion. He has written particularly extensively on Africana and black existentialism, postcolonial phenomenology, race and racism, and on the works and thought of W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon. His most recent book is titled: What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction

  10. David Theo Goldberg
    #10

    David Theo Goldberg

    1952 - Present (69 years)

    #9017 person's overall influence

    David Theo Goldberg is the director of the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute, and a Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Anthropology for the University of California at Irvine. He studied economics, politics, and philosophy from the University of Cape Town before earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from the City University of New York.

  11. Judith Butler
    #11

    Judith Butler

    1956 - Present (65 years)

    #332 person's overall influence

    Judith Butler is the Maxine Ellio Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy at Yale University in 1978, and her PhD at Yale in 1984. In addition to UC Berkeley, Butler has taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and the University of Amsterdam.

  12. Anita L. Allen
    #12

    Anita L. Allen

    1953 - Present (68 years)

    #212253 person's overall influence

    Anita L. Allen current holds the titles of the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and is Vice Provost of Faculty. Within the university, Allen has also worked with the bioethics department, the Africana Studies program, and the gender, sexuality, and women’s studies program. Outside of the University of Pennsylvania, Allen has also taught at places including Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Tel Aviv University. Allen received her BA from the New College of Florid...

  13. Charles W. Mills
    #13

    Charles W. Mills

    1951 - Present (70 years)

    #16886 person's overall influence

    Charles Mills was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center City University of New York, as well as a critically acclaimed philosopher on race. He earned his B.Sc. in physics from the University of the West Indies and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.

  14. #14

    Mari Matsuda

    1956 - Present (65 years)

    #19454 person's overall influence

    Mari J. Matsuda is an American lawyer, activist, and law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. She was the first tenured female Asian American law professor in the United States, at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1998 and one of the leading voices in critical race theory since its inception. Matsuda returned to Richardson in the fall of 2008. Prior to her return, Matsuda was a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in the fields of torts, constitutional law, legal history, f...

  15. Patricia J. Williams
    #15

    Patricia J. Williams

    1951 - Present (70 years)

    #16748 person's overall influence

    Patricia J. Williams is an American legal scholar and a proponent of critical race theory, a school of legal thought that emphasizes race as a fundamental determinant of the American legal system.Early life Williams received her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College in 1972, and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1975.

  16. #16

    John Comaroff

    1945 - Present (76 years)

    #159211 person's overall influence

    John Comaroff is the Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, and Oppenheimer Research Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University. Comaroff also serves as a research professor at the American Bar Foundation. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town and his doctorate from the London School of Economics.

  17. #17

    Caroline Elkins

    1969 - Present (52 years)

    #41285 person's overall influence

    Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, a visiting professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and the founding director of Harvard's Center for African Studies.

  18. Sally Haslanger
    #18

    Sally Haslanger

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #11937 person's overall influence

    Sally Haslanger, currently appointed the Ford Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), completed her undergraduate education at Reed College in 1977, and earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. Currently one of the most influential people in philosophy, Haslanger has previously held appointments in the Ivy league, at Princeton University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

  19. Ulf Hannerz
    #19

    Ulf Hannerz

    1942 - Present (79 years)

    #18938 person's overall influence

    Ulf Hannerz is an emeritus professor of social anthropology at Stockholm University, which is where he also earned his Ph.D. As an anthropologist, he has focused his research on urban and media anthropology. His research has taken him to locations in the United States, the Caribbean, and West Africa.

  20. Manning Marable
    #20

    Manning Marable

    1950 - 2011 (61 years)

    #9060 person's overall influence

    William Manning Marable was an American professor of public affairs, history and African-American Studies at Columbia University. Marable founded and directed the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. He authored several texts and was active in progressive political causes. At the time of his death, he had completed a biography of human rights activist Malcolm X titled Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention , for which Marable won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.

  21. Linda Martín Alcoff
    #21

    Linda Martín Alcoff

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #30001 person's overall influence

    Panama-born Linda Martin Alcoff is currently appointed as a professor of philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Alcoff earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1980 at Georgia State University, as well as her MA in 1983, and in 1987 earned her PhD in philosophy at Brown University. In her career, Alcoff has also held positions at Kalamazoo College, Syracuse University, Cornell University, and Brown University, among others.

  22. #22

    Gloria Ladson-Billings

    1947 - Present (74 years)

    #31666 person's overall influence

    Gloria Ladson-Billings was born in 1947. She is best known for her book, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, and her work to reduce the education disparities faced by African American children. She earned her master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington and her Ph.D from Stanford University.

  23. Jean Comaroff
    #23

    Jean Comaroff

    1946 - Present (75 years)

    #16941 person's overall influence

    Jean Comaroff is Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University. She is an expert on the effects of colonialism on people in Southern Africa.University of Chicago and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.

  24. Toyin Falola
    #24

    Toyin Falola

    1953 - Present (68 years)

    #14158 person's overall influence

    Toyin Omoyeni Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin. Falola earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in History at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife , in Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and of the Nigerian Academy of Letters. Falola is author and editor of more than one hundred books, and he is the general editor of the Cambria African Studies Series . Falola served as the president of the African Studies Association in 2014 and 2015.

  25. Andrey Korotayev
    #25

    Andrey Korotayev

    1961 - Present (60 years)

    #3027 person's overall influence

    Andrey Korotayev was born in Moscow, Russia in 1961. Korotayev earned his MA from Moscow State University, going on to earn a PhD from Manchester University and a Doctor of Sciences degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a noted anthropologist, demographer, and sociologist. He has authored hundreds of works based on his research.

  26. Mustafa Emirbayer
    #26

    Mustafa Emirbayer

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #28239 person's overall influence

    Mustafa Emirbayer Is a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He graduated with his B.A. from the University of California, Davis and earned his M.A. and Ph.D from Harvard University.

  27. #27

    Howard Winant

    1946 - Present (75 years)

    #32521 person's overall influence

    Howard Winant is an American sociologist and race theorist. Professor Winant is best known for developing the theory of racial formation along with Michael Omi. Winant is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Winant's research and teachings revolve around race and racism, comparative historical sociology, political sociology, social theory, and human rights.

  28. #28

    Keith Hart

    1943 - Present (78 years)

    #31294 person's overall influence

    Keith Hart is international director of the Human Economy Programme at the University of Pretoria and lives in Paris with his family. His main research has been on economic anthropology, Africa and the African diaspora. He has taught at numerous universities , most significantly at Cambridge where he was director of the African Studies Centre. He has contributed the concept of the informal economy to development studies and has published widely on economic anthropology. He is the author of The Memory Bank . One personal obsession has been the relationship between movement and identity in the

  29. #29

    Hazel Carby

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #20227 person's overall influence

    Hazel Vivian Carby is Professor Emerita of African American Studies and of American StudiesYale University.Early life and education Hazel Carby was born of Jamaican and Welsh parents in Okehampton, Devon, UK, on 15 January 1948. She earned a BA degree in English and history from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1970, then a PGCE in 1972, at the Institute of Education, London University. She taught high school from 1972 to 1979, then went back to university, at Birmingham University Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, where she gained a M.A and a Ph.D .

  30. James H. Cone
    #30

    James H. Cone

    1938 - 2018 (80 years)

    #6360 person's overall influence

    James Hal Cone was an American theologian, best known for his advocacy of black theology and black liberation theology. His 1969 book Black Theology and Black Power provided a new way to comprehensively define the distinctiveness of theology in the black church. His message was that Black Power, defined as black people asserting the humanity that white supremacy denied, was the gospel in America. Jesus came to liberate the oppressed, advocating the same thing as Black Power. He argued that white American churches preached a gospel based on white supremacy, antithetical to the gospel of Jesus.

  31. Georges Balandier
    #31

    Georges Balandier

    1920 - 2016 (96 years)

    #12239 person's overall influence

    Georges Balandier was a French sociologist, anthropologist and ethnologist noted for his research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Balandier was born in Aillevillers-et-Lyaumont. He was a professor at the Sorbonne , and is a member of the Center for African Studies , a research center of the École pratique des hautes études . He held for many years the Editorship of Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie and edited the series Sociologie d'Aujourd'hui at Presses Universitaires de France. He died on 5 October 2016 at the age of 95.

  32. #32

    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #47444 person's overall influence

    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is a Malawian historian, literary critic, novelist, short-story writer and blogger at The Zeleza Post. He was president of the African Studies Association. He was the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Quinnipiac University. He is the current Vice Chancellor of the United States International University Africa, located in Nairobi, Kenya.

  33. #33

    Richard Delgado

    1939 - Present (82 years)

    #47284 person's overall influence

    Richard Delgado is an American legal scholar who teaches civil rights and critical race theory University of Alabama School of Law. He has written and co-authored numerous articles and books, many with his wife, Jean Stefancic. He is considered one of several "founders" of Critical Race Theory, is also notable for his scholarship on hate speech, and for introducing storytelling into legal scholarship.

  34. George Yancy
    #34

    George Yancy

    1961 - Present (60 years)

    #40737 person's overall influence

    George Dewey Yancy is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.A. in philosophy from Yale University, an M.A. in Africana Studies, and a Ph.D. from Duquesne University. He is a distinguished Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, a University of Pennsylvania Inaugural Provost’s Distinguished Visiting Faculty Fellow, and the founding editor of the Philosophy of Race book series.

  35. #35

    Gary Peller

    1955 - Present (66 years)

    #37179 person's overall influence

    Gary Peller is Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a prominent member of the critical legal studies and critical race theory movements.Education and early career Peller received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University in 1977 and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School where he served as a member of the Harvard Law Review. Peller then clerked for Morris Lasker, a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He is currently a member of the Maryland state bar.

  36. Ibram X. Kendi
    #36

    Ibram X. Kendi

    1982 - Present (39 years)

    #24235 person's overall influence

    Ibram Xolani Kendi is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America. In July 2020, he assumed the position of director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

  37. #37

    Peter Gabel

    1947 - Present (74 years)

    #40744 person's overall influence

    Peter Gabel is an American law academic and associate editor of Tikkun, a bi-monthly Jewish critique of politics, culture, and society and has written a number of articles for the magazine on subjects ranging from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution to the creationism/evolution controversy . Gabel was a founder of the Institute for Labor and Mental Health in Oakland, California, and is close to the critical legal studies movement. He has published more than a dozen articles in law journals such as the Harvard Law Review and Texas Law Review, focusing on the role of law in ...

  38. Shaun L. Gabbidon
    #38

    Shaun L. Gabbidon

    1967 - Present (54 years)

    #77402 person's overall influence

    Shaun L. Gabbidon was born in England. He earned a Ph.D in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

  39. Tina Fernandes Botts
    #39

    Tina Fernandes Botts

    #59328 person's overall influence

    Tina Fernandes Botts is a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College. She is known for her work in legal hermeneutics, intersectionality, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of race . She is the former chair of the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers .

  40. Janet E. Helms
    #40

    Janet E. Helms

    #35222 person's overall influence

    Janet Helms is a research psychologist currently August Long Professor of Counseling Psychology at Boston University. She received her B.A. as well as M.A. in Psychology at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Iowa State University.

  41. #41

    Stephen Adebanji Akintoye

    1935 - Present (86 years)

    #18713 person's overall influence

    Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, also known as S. Banji Akintoye , is a Nigerian-born academic, historian and writer. He attended Christ's School Ado Ekiti, Nigeria from 1951–1955, and studied history at the University College , Ibadan , and doctoral studies from 1963-1966 at the University of Ibadan, where he was awarded a PhD in History in 1966. He taught at the History Department at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he became a professor and Director of the Institute of African Studies from 1974-1977. He has also taught African History in universities in the United States includ

  42. Michèle Lamont
    #42

    Michèle Lamont

    1957 - Present (64 years)

    #82339 person's overall influence

    Canadian-born Michèle Lamont currently holds the title of Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University, as well as Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She has also held professorial positions at the University of Texas at Austin and Princeton University, and visiting roles at a variety of international institutions. Beyond being a professor, Lamont served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association from 2016-2017, chair to the Council for European St

  43. Eddie Glaude
    #43

    Eddie Glaude

    1968 - Present (53 years)

    #82302 person's overall influence

    Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is an American academic. He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where he is also the Chair of the Center for African American Studies and the Chair of the Department of African American Studies. He is the author of the 2020 book Begin Again, which is about James Baldwin and the history of American politics.

  44. Matthew Barnett Robinson
    #44

    Matthew Barnett Robinson

    1970 - Present (51 years)

    #299451 person's overall influence

    Matthew Barnett Robinson is a full professor and criminologist for Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. from Florida State University. His research interests have included social justice, race and crime, criminological theory, the death penalty, the “war on drugs”, crime mapping and white-collar crime. He has published more than twenty books, including The Drug Trade and the Criminal Justice System, Crime Mapping and Spatial Aspects of Crime: Theory and Practice, Death Nation: The Experts Explain American Capital Punishment, and Greed is Good: Maximization and El...

  45. Frieda Ekotto
    #45

    Frieda Ekotto

    1959 - Present (62 years)

    #570122 person's overall influence

    Frieda Ekotto is a Francophone African woman novelist and literary critic. She is Professor of AfroAmerican and African Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan and is currently the Hunting Family Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities. She is best known for her novels, which focus on gender and sexuality in Sub-Saharan Africa, and her work on the writer Jean Genet, particular her political analysis of his prison writing, and his impact as a race theorist in the Francophone world. Her research and teaching focuses on literature, film, race and law in the Francophone...

  46. Raymond Winbush
    #46

    Raymond Winbush

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #130675 person's overall influence

    Raymond Arnold Winbush aka Tikari Bioko is an American-African scholar and activist known for his systems-thinking approaches to understanding the impact of racism/white supremacy on the global African community. His writings, consultations, and research have been instrumental in understanding developmental stages in Black males, public policy and its connection to compensatory justice, relationships between Black males and females, infusion of African studies into school curricula, and the impact of hip hop culture on the contemporary American landscape. He is currently Research Professor ...

  47. #47

    Paula D. McClain

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #52026 person's overall influence

    Paula Denice McClain , is a professor of political science, public policy, and African and African American Studies at Duke University and is a widely quoted expert on racism and race relations. Her research focuses primarily on racial minority-group politics and urban politics. She is co-director of Duke's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences, and director of the American Political Science Association's Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, which is hosted by Duke and funded by the National Science Foundation and Duke.

  48. #48

    Jennifer Hochschild

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #168223 person's overall influence

    Jennifer Hochschild is the Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D from Yale University. She has specialized in studies regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, immigration, truth, and public policy.

  49. #49

    Valeria Sinclair-Chapman

    1969 - Present (52 years)

    #379101 person's overall influence

    Valeria Sinclair-Chapman is an American political scientist, currently a professor of political science and African-American studies at Purdue University. Sinclair-Chapman studies American political institutions, the representation of minority groups in the United States Congress, and minority political participation, particularly how excluded groups come to be included in American politics.

  50. Derrick Bell
    #50

    Derrick Bell

    1930 - 2011 (81 years)

    #9737 person's overall influence

    Derrick Albert Bell Jr. was an American lawyer, professor, and civil rights activist. In 1971, he became the first tenured African-American professor of law at Harvard Law School, and he is often credited as one of the originators of critical race theory along with Richard Delgado, Charles Lawrence, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia Williams. He was a visiting professor at New York University School of Law from 1991 until his death. He was also a dean of the University of Oregon School of Law.

  51. #51

    Jacquelyn Grant

    1948 - Present (73 years)

    #50871 person's overall influence

    Jacquelyn Grant is an American theologian and Methodist minister who is one of the founding developers of womanist theology. Womanist theology addresses theology from the viewpoint of Black women, reflecting on both their perspectives and experience in regards to faith and moral standards. She is currently the Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Grant has written the book White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus .

  52. #52

    Kendall Thomas

    #221710 person's overall influence

    Kendall Thomas is Nash Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture, at Columbia Law School.He won a Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin.Works Thomas,Kendall. Seriam os direitos dos transgêneros direitos Inumanos? RDFD, 2017, volume=22, series=1, pages=4-23http://revistaeletronicardfd.unibrasil.com.br/index.php/rdfd/article/view/1032x https://doi.org/10.25192/issn.1982-0496.rdfd.v22i11032

  53. #53

    Faye V. Harrison

    1951 - Present (70 years)

    #1484321 person's overall influence

    Faye Harrison is a professor of African-American Studies and Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate for the Program on Women & Gender in Global Perspectives, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and the Center for African Studies, all for the University of Illinois. She earned her B.A. from Brown University and a Ph.D from Stanford University.

  54. Dara Strolovitch
    #54

    Dara Strolovitch

    #711280 person's overall influence

    Dara Strolovitch is an American political scientist, currently a professor of gender and sexuality studies, African American studies, and political science at Princeton University. She studies the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the context of intersectional societal inequality, and the representation of those who are marginalized in multiple overlapping ways.

  55. Juana María Rodríguez
    #55

    Juana María Rodríguez

    1950 - Present (71 years)

    #813435 person's overall influence

    Juana María Rodríguez is a professor of Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarly writing in queer theory, critical race theory, and performance studies highlights the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and embodiment in constructing subjectivity.

  56. Naomi Murakawa
    #56

    Naomi Murakawa

    #147715 person's overall influence

    Naomi Murakawa is a political scientist and associate professor of African-American studies for Princeton University. She earned a B.A. in women’s studies from Columbia University, an M.Sc. in social policy from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.

  57. Nadia Brown
    #57

    Nadia Brown

    #239901 person's overall influence

    Nadia E. Brown is a University Scholar and Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Purdue University. She earned a B.A. in political science from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in political science, with a concentration in women and politics from Rutgers University. She later went on to earn a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.

  58. #58

    Kim F. Hall

    1961 - Present (60 years)

    #749186 person's overall influence

    Kim F. Hall is Lucyle Hook Professor of English and Professor of Africana Studies at Barnard College. She is an expert on black feminist studies, critical race theory, early modern and Renaissance literature.

  59. #59

    Melville J. Herskovits

    1895 - 1963 (68 years)

    #12307 person's overall influence

    Melville Jean Herskovits was an American anthropologist who helped establish African and African-American studies in American academia. He is known for exploring the cultural continuity from African cultures as expressed in African-American communities. He worked with his wife Frances Herskovits, also an anthropologist, in the field in South America, the Caribbean and Africa. They jointly wrote several books and monographs.

  60. #60

    Andrea Abrams

    #833218 person's overall influence

    Dr. Andrea Abrams is an American anthropologist, Associate Professor, President of the Association of Black Anthropologists and Author of God and Blackness: Race, Gender and Identity in a Middle Class Afrocentric Church. Andrea is currently an associate professor of Anthropology, Gender Studies and African American Studies at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, as well as the Chair of the Gender Studies Program.

Top Activists

We restricted our list of influencers above to those who hold or have held academic positions. The following are highly influential people outside of careers in academia. We’re open to adding to this list. Email us with suggestions.

Shaun King

Shaun King

1979 - Present (42 years)

#24069 person's overall influence

Jeffery Shaun King is an American writer, civil rights activist and co-founder of Real Justice PAC. King uses social media to promote social justice causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement.

Demico Boothe

#329322 person's overall influence

Demico Boothe is an African-American bestselling author of several books on the plight of African American men in the American prison system. Boothe's book, Why Are There So Many Black Men in Jail? addresses the issue of racism in the Crack versus Cocaine Laws and was published in 2007, three years before Michelle Alexander's better-known book that also addresses the subject, The New Jim Crow, published in 2010. Why Are There So Many Black Men in Prison? is on the Black Lives Matter recommended reading list.

Nikkita Oliver

Nikkita Oliver

1986 - Present (35 years)

#318597 person's overall influence

Nikkita R. Oliver is an American lawyer, non-profit administrator, educator, poet, and political activist. They were a candidate for Mayor of Seattle in the 2017 mayoral election, and finished third in the primary with 16.99% of the vote. They are a leader in the Black Lives Matter, civil rights, and criminal justice reform movements in Seattle.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates

1975 - Present (46 years)

#5399 person's overall influence

Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates is an American author and journalist. Coates gained a wide readership during his time as national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he wrote about cultural, social, and political issues, particularly regarding African Americans and white supremacy. Coates has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and TIME. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, O, and other publications.

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