Scholar, Organizer Against Racial Inequality Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor to Deliver 2017 Commencement Address

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of the critically acclaimed book From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, published last year by Haymarket Books and called essential reading by The Nation and the Los Angeles Review of Books. In it, Taylor examines the history and politics of Black America, racism, inequality, and the development of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to police violence in the United States.

“The text chronicles a portion of history we rarely ever see, while also bringing together data and deep primary source research in a way that lucidly explains the origins of the current moment," writes the Los Angeles Review of Books. "Taylor’s vision of solidarity may be a feasible way forward, especially in a season in which Black activists are fighting a presidential candidate who embodies the evils of racism, capitalism, and militarism, the traits that [Martin Luther] King called the United States’s interrelated flaws; flaws that both King and Taylor argue are ‘rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society.’”

The Guardian calls Taylor “the rare academic writer whose sense of humor is as sharp as her scholarship. She’s written a sweeping yet concise history not just of the Black Lives Matter movement, but of the past seven years under the first black president and of how the 20th century led to our current state of woke uprising.” The reviewer adds that Taylor's book is “full of gems of historical insight.”

In 2016, the author received the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book.

Taylor’s writing has been published in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Boston Review, The New Republic, AlJazeera America, Jacobin, In These Times, New Politics, and the The International Socialist Review.

Taylor’s research lies broadly in the fields of race and public policy, Black politics and racial inequality in the United States including housing policies. She is currently writing a book titled Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis in the 1970s, under contract with the University of North Carolina Press in its Justice, Power and Politics series. Here Taylor looks at the federal government's turn to market-based solutions in its low-income-housing programs in the 1970s and the role of private sector forces, typically hidden in public policy making during the “urban crisis” of the 1970s.

Taylor’s research has been supported, in part, by a multiyear Northwestern University Presidential Fellowship, the Ford Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. She was the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013-14.

Taylor earned her doctorate in African American studies from Northwestern University in 2013.


Hampshire College Commencement

Interview in The Nation, March 2017

Book Review Los Angeles Review of Books

Book Review Counterpunch

Book Review The Guardian

Interview Truthout, March 2016

Writings in Jacobin magazine

Video of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, talk, 20 January 2016

Princeton University faculty page

Twitter @KeeangaYamahtta