Top Critical Race Theory Influencers

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.

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

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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 Crenshaw , and Alan 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.

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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. #1

    Kimberlé Crenshaw

    #8315
    Overall Influence
    1959 - Present (63 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, Feminism and Law, Civil Rights
    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–Madison.

    Influential far beyond just the realm of law, Crenshaw is one of the founders of critical race theory and the concept of intersectionality. These are methods of analyzing issues in regards to the influence of race, as well as the intersection (hence the name) of various aspects of identity, such as economic status, education, and gender. Crenshaw notes, of course, that she put the name "intersectionality" on the concept, but it existed before in the work of people such as Angela J. Davis and Deborah King. These ideas are just as often applied in fields including literature and art, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology as they are in law and legal theory.

  2. #2

    Patricia Hill Collins

    #2893
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)

    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.

    Collins is known for her work in the intersection of factors such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and national origin affect our perceptions of selves and others, as well as opportunities and barriers, and approach better known as intersectionality. In particular, Collins has placed a great deal of focus on how these various factors affect the status and lives of Black people in America. Though Collins did not coin the term "intersectionality" (that can be traced to Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of our most influential figures in law), her work has done a great deal to advance the idea as a critical tool, and explore how it can be implemented to better understand social issues and inequity.

  3. #3

    David Theo Goldberg

    #12955
    Overall Influence
    1952 - Present (70 years)

    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.

    His research has explored themes of race and racism, law and society, ethics, critical theory, digital humanities, critical race theory, cultural and university studies. He has written extensively on race theory, in particular, with books titled, Are We All Postracial Yet?, Racial Subjects: Writing on Race in America, and Ethical Theory and Social Issues: Historical Texts and Contemporary Readings.

  4. #4

    Charles W. Mills

    #41079
    Overall Influence
    1951 - 2021 (70 years)

    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.

    As the author of one of the most widely adopted texts on bigotry and human rights, Charles Mills is considered a foremost authority on social and political philosophy as they pertain to race. The aforementioned text, The Racial Contract, was awarded the Gustuvus Myers Outstanding Book Award. He has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2017. He is also the author of Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race, From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism, and Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination. His most recent book, Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, was published in 2017.

  5. #5

    Mari Matsuda

    #37843
    Overall Influence
    1956 - Present (66 years)
    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

    #33600
    Overall Influence
    1947 - Present (75 years)

    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.

    She has devoted her life to addressing culturally relevant pedagogy and the education of African-American children, specifically, but also children of other ethnicities. In recognition of her work in education and race theory, she was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018. She also served as the president of the National Academy of Education, a position from which she was able to promote equality in educational access and opportunities for children of color.

  7. #7

    Richard Delgado

    #59236
    Overall Influence
    1939 - Present (83 years)
    Richard Delgado is an American legal scholar who teaches civil rights and critical race theory at the 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, and is also notable for his scholarship on hate speech and for introducing storytelling into legal scholarship.
  8. #8

    Derrick Bell

    #19727
    Overall Influence
    1930 - 2011 (81 years)
    Derrick Albert Bell Jr. was an American lawyer, professor, and civil rights activist. Bell worked for first the U.S. Justice Department, then the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he supervised over 300 school desegregation cases in Mississippi.
  9. #9

    Patricia J. Williams

    #22098
    Overall Influence
    1951 - Present (71 years)
    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

    #1331202
    Overall Influence
    1951 - Present (71 years)

    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.

    Harrison's research interests have taken her to Nigeria, South Africa, Japan, Jamaica, Denmark and many more countries. She has explored racism and human rights, gendered division of labor, gang politics and criminality, and feminism.

    She has been honored many times for her contributions to the field of anthropology. She has received the Society for the Anthropology of North America Prize for Distinguished Achievement in the Critical Study of North America, the Distinguished Service Award from the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and the Presidential Award of the American Anthropological Association. She was chair for the Commission on the Anthropology of Women from 1993 to 2009 and president of the Association of Black Anthropologists from 1989 to 1991.

  11. #11

    Sally Haslanger

    #15007
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)

    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.

    Haslanger's work and influence are broad. Starting her career in the areas of analytic metaphysics and epistemology, Haslanger has since built on ancient philosophy foundations to create notable work in the realms of social and political philosophy. Haslanger is perhaps best known for her work in feminist theory and critical race theory, applying ancient and metaphysical principles (such as Aristotle's hylomorphic theory) to these relatively modern areas of inquiry, especially in regards to the notion of social construction. On that topic, Haslanger has been a formidable voice, publishing groundbreaking pieces investigating and analyzing social categories that are traditionally seen as universal and unquestionable. Haslanger's work is perhaps best represented in the book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, which collects two decades of her papers, covering and connecting topics including epistemology, metaphysics, and social and gender issues.

  12. #12

    Juana María Rodríguez

    #760604
    Overall Influence
    Juana María Rodríguez is a Cuban-American 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

    #6642
    Overall Influence
    1942 - Present (80 years)
    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

    #48485
    Overall Influence
    1947 - Present (75 years)
    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

    #60723
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)
    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

    #276663
    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. #1

    Linda Martín Alcoff

    #15930
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)

    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.

    Alcoff is best known for her intersectional approach to issues of race, gender, identity, and epistemology. Alcoff identifies location as a major component in both self-identity and how we identify and relate to others. In particular, Alcoff is known for an essay titled “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in which she analyzed the discourse we use to speak of other people, finding rhetorical (and epistemic) tendencies for domination and mastery. Accordingly, Alcoff has been a vocal advocate of greater recognition and inclusion of marginalized and underrepresented groups in philosophy, allowing these groups to fully and accurately represent and speak for themselves.

  2. #2

    Mustafa Emirbayer

    #31715
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)

    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.

    He has published several articles and books about classic and contemporary sociological theory. His Race in America (written with M. Desmond), is a widely used textbook for undergraduate sociology students. He was honored by the American Sociological Association for The Racial Order, which received their Theory Prize. His research interests have included civil society, psychoanalytics, pragmatic philosophy, relational sociology, and the public sphere.

  3. #3

    Howard Winant

    #50786
    Overall Influence
    1946 - Present (76 years)
    Howard Winant is an American sociologist and race theorist. Winant is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Winant is best known for developing the theory of racial formation along with Michael Omi. Winant’s research and teachings revolve around race and racism, comparative historical sociology, political sociology, social theory, and human rights.
  4. #4

    Janet E. Helms

    #50597
    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.

    Helms' work in psychology focuses on her theory of racial identity, which seeks to explain how race, culture, and gender contribute to personality as well as counseling styles. Notably, she also researches issues with mental health and race or gender. When she first started in research psychology, these topics did not receive as much attention as she subsequently brought to them. Helms has been a thought leader in not just contributing to but, in a sense, creating this topic in official research psychology.

    In 2006, Helms won the Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology, awarded by the American Psychological Association. She sits on the boards of several influential publications in psychology, including the Journal of Psychological Assessment, the Journal of Counseling Psychology, and The Counseling Psychologist.

  5. #5

    Matthew Barnett Robinson

    #412855
    Overall Influence
    1970 - Present (52 years)

    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 Elite Deviance in America.

  6. #6

    Judith Butler

    #420
    Overall Influence
    1956 - Present (66 years)

    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.

    Drawing on critical traditions including phenomenology, feminism, cultural criticism, and philosophy of language, much of Butler’s work focuses on issues of gender. At the core of her work is the argument that gender is performative, an idea heavily influenced by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir. In this approach, Butler differentiates between sex as a biological designation, and gender as the product of culture and action. Consequently, however much a person identifies with or resists their declared gender is a matter of performativity in regards to established norms and expectations. From this, Butler argues gender is real in that we perform it and make it real, which also makes it fluid, and capable to change through our performative choices.

  7. #7

    Ulf Hannerz

    #20885
    Overall Influence
    1942 - Present (80 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Urban and Media Anthropology
    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.

    His current interests involve post-Cold War future facing scenarios with impacts on a global scale. He examines apocalyptic predictions as a product of culture and spread around the world by way of ubiquitous technology. He has written books such as World Watching: Streetcorners and Newsbeats on a Journey through Anthropology and Writing Future Worlds: An Anthropologist Explores Global Scenarios.

  8. #8

    Ibram X. Kendi

    #22556
    Overall Influence
    1982 - Present (40 years)
    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. #1

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    #8129
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)
    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. #2

    Molefi Kete Asante

    #4827
    Overall Influence
    1942 - Present (80 years)
    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. #3

    Lewis Gordon

    #21083
    Overall Influence
    1962 - Present (60 years)
    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. #4

    Anita L. Allen

    #287987
    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (69 years)

    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 Florida, and her MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan.

    Allen is often cited as an international expert on issues of law and ethics, especially in regards to privacy, as well as women’s rights and diversity in higher education. Much of Allen’s work investigates the intersection between privacy, ethics, and society, and what these things mean in an increasingly advanced age in which the nature and role of privacy in our everyday lives and decisions is constantly shifting. These concerns extended to bioethics as well; in fact, in 2010 Allen was selected by President Barack Obama for the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

  5. #5

    John Comaroff

    #6944
    Overall Influence
    1945 - Present (77 years)

    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.

    Comaroff has held numerous influential teaching positions, includng the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago as well as positions at Duke University, Tel Aviv University, and University of Wales. He has been recognized an Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town since 2004. He has also held fellowships at the University of Manchester in the International Centre for Contemporary Cultural Research and for the Center for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin.

    His research interests have included occult rituals, religious practices, culture, society, and law throughout Botswana and South Africa, where he was born and raised. Most recently, his research in South Africa focuses on crime and policing in the North West Province, the commodification of ethnic identity and cultural property among Tswana and San peoples, and the case of Khulekani Khumalo which examines the effects of imposture and personhood as a result of postcolonial social conditions.

  6. #6

    Caroline Elkins

    #67188
    Overall Influence
    1969 - Present (53 years)
    Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Law School, and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for African Studies.
  7. #7

    Manning Marable

    #14051
    Overall Influence
    1950 - 2011 (61 years)
    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. #8

    Jean Comaroff

    #20904
    Overall Influence
    1946 - Present (76 years)
    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. Until 2012, Jean was the Bernard E. & Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.
  9. #9

    Toyin Falola

    #18319
    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (69 years)
    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. Biography Falola began his academic career as a schoolteacher in Pahayi in 1970 and by 1981 he was a lecturer at the University of Ife. Falola earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in History at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife , in Nigeria.
  10. #10

    Hazel Carby

    #31487
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)
    Hazel Vivian Carby is Professor Emerita of African American Studies and of American Studies. She served as Charles C & Dorathea S Dilley Professor of African American Studies & American Studies at Yale University.
  11. #11

    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

    #76626
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)
    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

    #24558
    Overall Influence
    1935 - Present (87 years)
    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. #13

    Michèle Lamont

    #77981
    Overall Influence
    1957 - Present (65 years)

    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 Studies from 2006-2009, and co-director of the Co-director of the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Lamont completed her BA and MA in political theory in 1979 at the University of Ottawa, and her Ph.D. from the University of Paris in 1983.

    Lamont is a cultural and comparative sociologist and her work is primarily focused on issues of inequality and social hierarchy. In particular, Lamont has focused on how racism and stigma emerge from and also inform inequality in social systems. Lamont argues for a theory of boundaries, in which society is defined by symbolic boundaries (conceptual distinctions of groups and members) and social boundaries (social differences defined by inequality of social opportunities). These ideas have been influential in understanding race relations and inequality in American and European societies.

  14. #14

    Eddie Glaude

    #91897
    Overall Influence
    1968 - Present (54 years)
    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. #15

    Frieda Ekotto

    #642782
    Overall Influence
    1959 - Present (63 years)
    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. #16

    Raymond Winbush

    #204653
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)
    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

    #189323
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)

    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.

    She has been recognized for her scholarship. Her book, Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation, was named Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights and was awarded the David Easton Award from Division of Foundations for Political Thought at the American Political Science Association. Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics, and the Young Can Remake Race in America was chosen as Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine.

  18. #18

    Paula D. McClain

    #82409
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)
    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

    #498354
    Overall Influence
    1969 - Present (53 years)
    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. #20

    Dara Strolovitch

    #748060
    Overall Influence
    Dara Strolovitch is an American political scientist, currently Professor of Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, and Political Science at Yale 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. #21

    Naomi Murakawa

    #196304
    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.

    She is best known for her book, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America . In her book, she argues that liberals are just as much at fault for mass incarceration in the United States as conservatives. She specifically targets Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden as advocates for policies that have led to greater rates of incarceration among minorities.

    She also notes the pivot away from efforts to abolish the death penalty, in favor of broadening the scope of crimes eligible for capital punishment. These policies, in the guise of law-and-order politics, were based on a flawed premise of criminality that seemed to justify excessively punitive punishment. This book won the Michael Harrington Book Award from the American Political Science Association in 2015.

  22. #22

    Nadia Brown

    #258078
    Overall Influence

    Nadia E. Brown is professor of government, chair of the women's and gender studies program, and affiliate in the African American studies program at Georgetown 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.

    Her work has focused on intersectionality between legislative, gender and identity studies. She began her work as a professor at St. Louis University, where she worked from 2010 to 2013. She later wrote a book, Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making, which was awarded the 2015 W.E.B. Dubois Distinguished Book Award. The book investigates how African-American female legislators work may be influenced in their decision making by their experiences with sexism and racism. Other published works of Brown include Me Too Political Science and Distinct Identities: Miniority Women in U.S. Politics.

  23. #23

    Shaun L. Gabbidon

    #114942
    Overall Influence
    1967 - Present (55 years)

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

    His first book, The Criminological Writings of W.E.B. DuBois: A Historical Analysis, provided important insights into W.E.B. DuBois' research regarding crime in the United States - as it pertained to the experience of African Americans - and how DuBois foreshadowed later research findings in the area of criminology. He is also known for his book, Criminological Perspectives on Race and Crime, in which he critically examines and evaluates the theories of criminologists such as Biko Agozino and J. Phillippe Rushton.

    Gabbidon is a former professor at the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has been named a fellow at Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research. The Division on People of Color and Crime of the American Society of Criminology have twice honored Gabbidon. He was honored with the 2015 Julius Debro Award and the 2016 Outstanding Teaching Award.

  24. #24

    Kim F. Hall

    #898655
    Overall Influence
    1961 - Present (61 years)
    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. #1

    Cornel West

    #1805
    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (69 years)

    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.

    West is well recognized as a social critic on racial and political issues, as well as a public intellectual. Indeed, his influence can be traced as much (or more) to his public activism and visibility as it can his academic work. West is often cited in mainstream media, and frequently makes public, television, radio, and print appearances. West is known as a strong voice of left-wing politics and social justice in America, though he has also frequently been critical of prominent left-wing politicians, including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Also notable is the fact that West has established a public presence removed from politics and philosophy entirely, including cameos in films from The Matrix franchise, as well as a spoken word and hip hop albums.

  2. #2

    Kwame Anthony Appiah

    #5672
    Overall Influence
    1954 - Present (68 years)

    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.

    Appiah began teaching as a professor in 1981, and has worked at such universities as the University of Ghana, Harvard University, and Princeton University. His writing and philosophy covers topics including ethics, philosophy of language, politics and political systems, culture, and race. This multifaceted approach has resulted in Appiah wielding significant influence in a range of areas. Appiah’s work draws on cosmopolitan philosophy, favoring notions of global citizenship and universalism, and evaluating and building on these ideas in light of cultural differences and racial histories. Appiah argues that the development of culture is dependent on intellectual exchange, which can be hampered or even impeded by capitalism.

  3. #3

    Robert Bernasconi

    #9409
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)

    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.

    Most recently, Bernasconi has taught courses on Medieval Ethics, Critical Philosophy of Race, Sartre, Fanon, Levinas, and Modern Political Philosophy and Slavery. He is a prolific writer who writes at least one piece for each of his areas of interest each year. His most recent published works include "A Most Dangerous Error: The Boasian Myth of a Knock-Down Argument against Racism", "The Other Does not Respond: Levinas's Response to Blanchot", and "Subjectivity Must Be Defended: Substitution, Entanglement, and the Prehistory of the Me in Levinas".

  4. #4

    George Yancy

    #70615
    Overall Influence
    1961 - Present (61 years)

    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.

    He is best known for his scholarly work in critical whiteness studies, critical phenomenology, critical philosophy of race, and African American philosophy. He is a prolific writer with more than 150 published works, including Our Black Sons Matter: Mothers Talk About Fears, Sorrows, and Hopes and On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis. He most recently published Across Black Spaces: Essays and Interviews from an American Philosopher, which was published in 2020. In 2017, Our Black Sons Matter was recognized by Booklist as a Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction book.

  5. #5

    Tina Fernandes Botts

    #104796
    Overall Influence
    Tina Fernandes Botts is a legal scholar and philosophy professor who is currently Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College, Visiting Professor of Law at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and Adjunct Professor of Law at San Joaquin College of Law. 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. #1

    Andrey Korotayev

    #3026
    Overall Influence
    1961 - Present (61 years)

    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.

    Korotayev has produced meaningful work in diverse fields of study. He has examined Heinz von Foerster's Doomsday Equation and collaborated with other scientists to develop forecasting models for the future of world development. He worked with Alexander Markov to apply a mathematical model to predict biological evolution and biodiversity. His work in cliodynamics has yielded mathematical models for understanding social systems and to identify the conditions under which conflict is more likely to arise. He has also conducted research throughout Africa and the Middle East and the origins of Islam.

  2. #2

    Keith Hart

    #36892
    Overall Influence
    1943 - Present (79 years)
    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. #3

    Georges Balandier

    #12841
    Overall Influence
    1920 - 2016 (96 years)
    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

    #14216
    Overall Influence
    1895 - 1963 (68 years)
    Melville Jean Herskovits was an Hungarian-German 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

    #1102827
    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. In 2018, she was named associate vice president for diversity affairs & special assistant to the president, and in 2021 was named vice president for diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Liberation Theology

  1. #1

    James H. Cone

    #6646
    Overall Influence
    1938 - 2018 (80 years)
    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

    #91291
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)
    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. #1

    Cornel West

    #1805
    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (69 years)

    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.

    West is well recognized as a social critic on racial and political issues, as well as a public intellectual. Indeed, his influence can be traced as much (or more) to his public activism and visibility as it can his academic work. West is often cited in mainstream media, and frequently makes public, television, radio, and print appearances. West is known as a strong voice of left-wing politics and social justice in America, though he has also frequently been critical of prominent left-wing politicians, including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Also notable is the fact that West has established a public presence removed from politics and philosophy entirely, including cameos in films from The Matrix franchise, as well as a spoken word and hip hop albums.

  2. #2

    Patricia Hill Collins

    #2893
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)

    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.

    Collins is known for her work in the intersection of factors such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and national origin affect our perceptions of selves and others, as well as opportunities and barriers, and approach better known as intersectionality. In particular, Collins has placed a great deal of focus on how these various factors affect the status and lives of Black people in America. Though Collins did not coin the term "intersectionality" (that can be traced to Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of our most influential figures in law), her work has done a great deal to advance the idea as a critical tool, and explore how it can be implemented to better understand social issues and inequity.

  3. #3

    Kimberlé Crenshaw

    #8315
    Overall Influence
    1959 - Present (63 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, Feminism and Law, Civil Rights
    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–Madison.

    Influential far beyond just the realm of law, Crenshaw is one of the founders of critical race theory and the concept of intersectionality. These are methods of analyzing issues in regards to the influence of race, as well as the intersection (hence the name) of various aspects of identity, such as economic status, education, and gender. Crenshaw notes, of course, that she put the name "intersectionality" on the concept, but it existed before in the work of people such as Angela J. Davis and Deborah King. These ideas are just as often applied in fields including literature and art, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology as they are in law and legal theory.

  4. #4

    Kwame Anthony Appiah

    #5672
    Overall Influence
    1954 - Present (68 years)

    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.

    Appiah began teaching as a professor in 1981, and has worked at such universities as the University of Ghana, Harvard University, and Princeton University. His writing and philosophy covers topics including ethics, philosophy of language, politics and political systems, culture, and race. This multifaceted approach has resulted in Appiah wielding significant influence in a range of areas. Appiah’s work draws on cosmopolitan philosophy, favoring notions of global citizenship and universalism, and evaluating and building on these ideas in light of cultural differences and racial histories. Appiah argues that the development of culture is dependent on intellectual exchange, which can be hampered or even impeded by capitalism.

  5. #5

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    #8129
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)
    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

    #6642
    Overall Influence
    1942 - Present (80 years)
    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. #7

    Molefi Kete Asante

    #4827
    Overall Influence
    1942 - Present (80 years)
    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. #8

    Robert Bernasconi

    #9409
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)

    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.

    Most recently, Bernasconi has taught courses on Medieval Ethics, Critical Philosophy of Race, Sartre, Fanon, Levinas, and Modern Political Philosophy and Slavery. He is a prolific writer who writes at least one piece for each of his areas of interest each year. His most recent published works include "A Most Dangerous Error: The Boasian Myth of a Knock-Down Argument against Racism", "The Other Does not Respond: Levinas's Response to Blanchot", and "Subjectivity Must Be Defended: Substitution, Entanglement, and the Prehistory of the Me in Levinas".

  9. #9

    Lewis Gordon

    #21083
    Overall Influence
    1962 - Present (60 years)
    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. #10

    David Theo Goldberg

    #12955
    Overall Influence
    1952 - Present (70 years)

    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.

    His research has explored themes of race and racism, law and society, ethics, critical theory, digital humanities, critical race theory, cultural and university studies. He has written extensively on race theory, in particular, with books titled, Are We All Postracial Yet?, Racial Subjects: Writing on Race in America, and Ethical Theory and Social Issues: Historical Texts and Contemporary Readings.

  11. #11

    Judith Butler

    #420
    Overall Influence
    1956 - Present (66 years)

    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.

    Drawing on critical traditions including phenomenology, feminism, cultural criticism, and philosophy of language, much of Butler’s work focuses on issues of gender. At the core of her work is the argument that gender is performative, an idea heavily influenced by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir. In this approach, Butler differentiates between sex as a biological designation, and gender as the product of culture and action. Consequently, however much a person identifies with or resists their declared gender is a matter of performativity in regards to established norms and expectations. From this, Butler argues gender is real in that we perform it and make it real, which also makes it fluid, and capable to change through our performative choices.

  12. #12

    Anita L. Allen

    #287987
    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (69 years)

    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 Florida, and her MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan.

    Allen is often cited as an international expert on issues of law and ethics, especially in regards to privacy, as well as women’s rights and diversity in higher education. Much of Allen’s work investigates the intersection between privacy, ethics, and society, and what these things mean in an increasingly advanced age in which the nature and role of privacy in our everyday lives and decisions is constantly shifting. These concerns extended to bioethics as well; in fact, in 2010 Allen was selected by President Barack Obama for the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

  13. #13

    Charles W. Mills

    #41079
    Overall Influence
    1951 - 2021 (70 years)

    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.

    As the author of one of the most widely adopted texts on bigotry and human rights, Charles Mills is considered a foremost authority on social and political philosophy as they pertain to race. The aforementioned text, The Racial Contract, was awarded the Gustuvus Myers Outstanding Book Award. He has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2017. He is also the author of Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race, From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism, and Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination. His most recent book, Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, was published in 2017.

  14. #14

    Mari Matsuda

    #37843
    Overall Influence
    1956 - Present (66 years)
    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. #15

    Patricia J. Williams

    #22098
    Overall Influence
    1951 - Present (71 years)
    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

    #6944
    Overall Influence
    1945 - Present (77 years)

    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.

    Comaroff has held numerous influential teaching positions, includng the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago as well as positions at Duke University, Tel Aviv University, and University of Wales. He has been recognized an Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town since 2004. He has also held fellowships at the University of Manchester in the International Centre for Contemporary Cultural Research and for the Center for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin.

    His research interests have included occult rituals, religious practices, culture, society, and law throughout Botswana and South Africa, where he was born and raised. Most recently, his research in South Africa focuses on crime and policing in the North West Province, the commodification of ethnic identity and cultural property among Tswana and San peoples, and the case of Khulekani Khumalo which examines the effects of imposture and personhood as a result of postcolonial social conditions.

  17. #17

    Caroline Elkins

    #67188
    Overall Influence
    1969 - Present (53 years)
    Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Law School, and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for African Studies.
  18. #18

    Sally Haslanger

    #15007
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)

    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.

    Haslanger's work and influence are broad. Starting her career in the areas of analytic metaphysics and epistemology, Haslanger has since built on ancient philosophy foundations to create notable work in the realms of social and political philosophy. Haslanger is perhaps best known for her work in feminist theory and critical race theory, applying ancient and metaphysical principles (such as Aristotle's hylomorphic theory) to these relatively modern areas of inquiry, especially in regards to the notion of social construction. On that topic, Haslanger has been a formidable voice, publishing groundbreaking pieces investigating and analyzing social categories that are traditionally seen as universal and unquestionable. Haslanger's work is perhaps best represented in the book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, which collects two decades of her papers, covering and connecting topics including epistemology, metaphysics, and social and gender issues.

  19. #19

    Ulf Hannerz

    #20885
    Overall Influence
    1942 - Present (80 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Urban and Media Anthropology
    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.

    His current interests involve post-Cold War future facing scenarios with impacts on a global scale. He examines apocalyptic predictions as a product of culture and spread around the world by way of ubiquitous technology. He has written books such as World Watching: Streetcorners and Newsbeats on a Journey through Anthropology and Writing Future Worlds: An Anthropologist Explores Global Scenarios.

  20. #20

    Manning Marable

    #14051
    Overall Influence
    1950 - 2011 (61 years)
    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. #21

    Linda Martín Alcoff

    #15930
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)

    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.

    Alcoff is best known for her intersectional approach to issues of race, gender, identity, and epistemology. Alcoff identifies location as a major component in both self-identity and how we identify and relate to others. In particular, Alcoff is known for an essay titled “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in which she analyzed the discourse we use to speak of other people, finding rhetorical (and epistemic) tendencies for domination and mastery. Accordingly, Alcoff has been a vocal advocate of greater recognition and inclusion of marginalized and underrepresented groups in philosophy, allowing these groups to fully and accurately represent and speak for themselves.

  22. #22

    Gloria Ladson-Billings

    #33600
    Overall Influence
    1947 - Present (75 years)

    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.

    She has devoted her life to addressing culturally relevant pedagogy and the education of African-American children, specifically, but also children of other ethnicities. In recognition of her work in education and race theory, she was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018. She also served as the president of the National Academy of Education, a position from which she was able to promote equality in educational access and opportunities for children of color.

  23. #23

    Jean Comaroff

    #20904
    Overall Influence
    1946 - Present (76 years)
    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. Until 2012, Jean was the Bernard E. & Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.
  24. #24

    Toyin Falola

    #18319
    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (69 years)
    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. Biography Falola began his academic career as a schoolteacher in Pahayi in 1970 and by 1981 he was a lecturer at the University of Ife. Falola earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in History at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife , in Nigeria.
  25. #25

    Andrey Korotayev

    #3026
    Overall Influence
    1961 - Present (61 years)

    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.

    Korotayev has produced meaningful work in diverse fields of study. He has examined Heinz von Foerster's Doomsday Equation and collaborated with other scientists to develop forecasting models for the future of world development. He worked with Alexander Markov to apply a mathematical model to predict biological evolution and biodiversity. His work in cliodynamics has yielded mathematical models for understanding social systems and to identify the conditions under which conflict is more likely to arise. He has also conducted research throughout Africa and the Middle East and the origins of Islam.

  26. #26

    Mustafa Emirbayer

    #31715
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)

    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.

    He has published several articles and books about classic and contemporary sociological theory. His Race in America (written with M. Desmond), is a widely used textbook for undergraduate sociology students. He was honored by the American Sociological Association for The Racial Order, which received their Theory Prize. His research interests have included civil society, psychoanalytics, pragmatic philosophy, relational sociology, and the public sphere.

  27. #27

    Howard Winant

    #50786
    Overall Influence
    1946 - Present (76 years)
    Howard Winant is an American sociologist and race theorist. Winant is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Winant is best known for developing the theory of racial formation along with Michael Omi. Winant’s research and teachings revolve around race and racism, comparative historical sociology, political sociology, social theory, and human rights.
  28. #28

    Keith Hart

    #36892
    Overall Influence
    1943 - Present (79 years)
    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

    #31487
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)
    Hazel Vivian Carby is Professor Emerita of African American Studies and of American Studies. She served as Charles C & Dorathea S Dilley Professor of African American Studies & American Studies at Yale University.
  30. #30

    James H. Cone

    #6646
    Overall Influence
    1938 - 2018 (80 years)
    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. #31

    Georges Balandier

    #12841
    Overall Influence
    1920 - 2016 (96 years)
    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

    #76626
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)
    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

    #59236
    Overall Influence
    1939 - Present (83 years)
    Richard Delgado is an American legal scholar who teaches civil rights and critical race theory at the 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, and is also notable for his scholarship on hate speech and for introducing storytelling into legal scholarship.
  34. #34

    George Yancy

    #70615
    Overall Influence
    1961 - Present (61 years)

    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.

    He is best known for his scholarly work in critical whiteness studies, critical phenomenology, critical philosophy of race, and African American philosophy. He is a prolific writer with more than 150 published works, including Our Black Sons Matter: Mothers Talk About Fears, Sorrows, and Hopes and On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis. He most recently published Across Black Spaces: Essays and Interviews from an American Philosopher, which was published in 2020. In 2017, Our Black Sons Matter was recognized by Booklist as a Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction book.

  35. #35

    Gary Peller

    #60723
    Overall Influence
    1955 - Present (67 years)
    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. #36

    Ibram X. Kendi

    #22556
    Overall Influence
    1982 - Present (40 years)
    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

    #48485
    Overall Influence
    1947 - Present (75 years)
    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. #38

    Shaun L. Gabbidon

    #114942
    Overall Influence
    1967 - Present (55 years)

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

    His first book, The Criminological Writings of W.E.B. DuBois: A Historical Analysis, provided important insights into W.E.B. DuBois' research regarding crime in the United States - as it pertained to the experience of African Americans - and how DuBois foreshadowed later research findings in the area of criminology. He is also known for his book, Criminological Perspectives on Race and Crime, in which he critically examines and evaluates the theories of criminologists such as Biko Agozino and J. Phillippe Rushton.

    Gabbidon is a former professor at the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has been named a fellow at Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research. The Division on People of Color and Crime of the American Society of Criminology have twice honored Gabbidon. He was honored with the 2015 Julius Debro Award and the 2016 Outstanding Teaching Award.

  39. #39

    Tina Fernandes Botts

    #104796
    Overall Influence
    Tina Fernandes Botts is a legal scholar and philosophy professor who is currently Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College, Visiting Professor of Law at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and Adjunct Professor of Law at San Joaquin College of Law. 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. #40

    Janet E. Helms

    #50597
    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.

    Helms' work in psychology focuses on her theory of racial identity, which seeks to explain how race, culture, and gender contribute to personality as well as counseling styles. Notably, she also researches issues with mental health and race or gender. When she first started in research psychology, these topics did not receive as much attention as she subsequently brought to them. Helms has been a thought leader in not just contributing to but, in a sense, creating this topic in official research psychology.

    In 2006, Helms won the Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology, awarded by the American Psychological Association. She sits on the boards of several influential publications in psychology, including the Journal of Psychological Assessment, the Journal of Counseling Psychology, and The Counseling Psychologist.

  41. #41

    Stephen Adebanji Akintoye

    #24558
    Overall Influence
    1935 - Present (87 years)
    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. #42

    Michèle Lamont

    #77981
    Overall Influence
    1957 - Present (65 years)

    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 Studies from 2006-2009, and co-director of the Co-director of the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Lamont completed her BA and MA in political theory in 1979 at the University of Ottawa, and her Ph.D. from the University of Paris in 1983.

    Lamont is a cultural and comparative sociologist and her work is primarily focused on issues of inequality and social hierarchy. In particular, Lamont has focused on how racism and stigma emerge from and also inform inequality in social systems. Lamont argues for a theory of boundaries, in which society is defined by symbolic boundaries (conceptual distinctions of groups and members) and social boundaries (social differences defined by inequality of social opportunities). These ideas have been influential in understanding race relations and inequality in American and European societies.

  43. #43

    Eddie Glaude

    #91897
    Overall Influence
    1968 - Present (54 years)
    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. #44

    Matthew Barnett Robinson

    #412855
    Overall Influence
    1970 - Present (52 years)

    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 Elite Deviance in America.

  45. #45

    Frieda Ekotto

    #642782
    Overall Influence
    1959 - Present (63 years)
    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. #46

    Raymond Winbush

    #204653
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)
    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

    #82409
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)
    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

    #189323
    Overall Influence
    1950 - Present (72 years)

    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.

    She has been recognized for her scholarship. Her book, Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation, was named Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in North America by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights and was awarded the David Easton Award from Division of Foundations for Political Thought at the American Political Science Association. Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics, and the Young Can Remake Race in America was chosen as Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine.

  49. #49

    Valeria Sinclair-Chapman

    #498354
    Overall Influence
    1969 - Present (53 years)
    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. #50

    Derrick Bell

    #19727
    Overall Influence
    1930 - 2011 (81 years)
    Derrick Albert Bell Jr. was an American lawyer, professor, and civil rights activist. Bell worked for first the U.S. Justice Department, then the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he supervised over 300 school desegregation cases in Mississippi.
  51. #51

    Jacquelyn Grant

    #91291
    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (74 years)
    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

    #276663
    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

    #1331202
    Overall Influence
    1951 - Present (71 years)

    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.

    Harrison's research interests have taken her to Nigeria, South Africa, Japan, Jamaica, Denmark and many more countries. She has explored racism and human rights, gendered division of labor, gang politics and criminality, and feminism.

    She has been honored many times for her contributions to the field of anthropology. She has received the Society for the Anthropology of North America Prize for Distinguished Achievement in the Critical Study of North America, the Distinguished Service Award from the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and the Presidential Award of the American Anthropological Association. She was chair for the Commission on the Anthropology of Women from 1993 to 2009 and president of the Association of Black Anthropologists from 1989 to 1991.

  54. #54

    Dara Strolovitch

    #748060
    Overall Influence
    Dara Strolovitch is an American political scientist, currently Professor of Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, and Political Science at Yale 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. #55

    Juana María Rodríguez

    #760604
    Overall Influence
    Juana María Rodríguez is a Cuban-American 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. #56

    Naomi Murakawa

    #196304
    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.

    She is best known for her book, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America . In her book, she argues that liberals are just as much at fault for mass incarceration in the United States as conservatives. She specifically targets Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden as advocates for policies that have led to greater rates of incarceration among minorities.

    She also notes the pivot away from efforts to abolish the death penalty, in favor of broadening the scope of crimes eligible for capital punishment. These policies, in the guise of law-and-order politics, were based on a flawed premise of criminality that seemed to justify excessively punitive punishment. This book won the Michael Harrington Book Award from the American Political Science Association in 2015.

  57. #57

    Nadia Brown

    #258078
    Overall Influence

    Nadia E. Brown is professor of government, chair of the women's and gender studies program, and affiliate in the African American studies program at Georgetown 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.

    Her work has focused on intersectionality between legislative, gender and identity studies. She began her work as a professor at St. Louis University, where she worked from 2010 to 2013. She later wrote a book, Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making, which was awarded the 2015 W.E.B. Dubois Distinguished Book Award. The book investigates how African-American female legislators work may be influenced in their decision making by their experiences with sexism and racism. Other published works of Brown include Me Too Political Science and Distinct Identities: Miniority Women in U.S. Politics.

  58. #58

    Kim F. Hall

    #898655
    Overall Influence
    1961 - Present (61 years)
    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

    #14216
    Overall Influence
    1895 - 1963 (68 years)
    Melville Jean Herskovits was an Hungarian-German 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

    #1102827
    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. In 2018, she was named associate vice president for diversity affairs & special assistant to the president, and in 2021 was named vice president for diversity, inclusion, and equity.

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

1979 - Present (43 years)
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

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

1986 - Present (36 years)
Nikkita R. Oliver is an American lawyer, non-profit administrator, educator, poet, and politician. Oliver was a candidate for Mayor of Seattle in the 2017 mayoral election, but finished third in the primary with 17% of the vote. Oliver was defeated again in an at-large Seattle city council race in 2021.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

1975 - Present (47 years)
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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F1 racing legend Sir Lewis Hamilton teaches a winning mindset…
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F1 racing legend Sir Lewis Hamilton teaches a winning mindset…
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