Meet Barbara Ransby, Historian, Activist and Author of ‘Making All Black Lives Matter’

Barbara Ransby is an historian, writer and longtime activist. She is a distinguished Professor of African-American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). There, she directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative. She previously served as Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and Interim vice Provost for Planning and Programs (2011 -2012) at UIC. Prof.

Ransby is the author of the highly acclaimed biography, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision. The book received eight national awards and recognitions. Her second book is Eslanda: the Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson (Yale University Press, 2013) and her most recent book is Making All Black Lives Matter: Re-imagining Freedom in the 21st Century (University of California Press, 2018).

Ransby has also published in numerous scholarly and popular publications. In terms of her activism, Ransby was an initiator of the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves campaign in 1991, a co-convener of The Black Radical Congress in 1998, and a founder of Ella’s Daughters, a network of women working in Ella Baker’s tradition. She has published and lectured widely at conferences, community forums and on over 50 college campuses. Her articles have appeared in popular as well as scholarly venues, including: The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press, In These Times and The Progressive.

Barbara was a part of the national advisory board of Imagining America and serves on the editorial boards of the London-based journal, Race and Class; the Justice, Power and Politics Series at University of North Carolina Press; and the Scholar’s Advisory Committee of Ms. magazine. In the summer of 2012 she became the second Editor in Chief of SOULS, a critical journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society published quarterly. In 2016, Barbara was elected President of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and served a two-year term ending in 2018.

In 2016, Barbara was elected president of the National Women’s Studies Association for a two-year term, which began in November 2016. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Angela Y. Davis Award from the American Studies Association, a price which recognizes scholars who have applied or used their scholarship for public good.

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