My name is Imani Perry. I am the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where I also am affiliated with the programs in gender and sexuality studies and jazz studies. I’m the author of seven books, the most recent of which, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, will be published in January 2022. In 2000, I earned a Ph.D. in American studies and a law degree from Harvard, and I began my academic career as a law professor who taught contracts and American legal history. Now I am an eclectic scholar and writer of creative nonfiction. My subjects include history, race, gender, literature, and music. In 2021 I was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Intellectual and Cultural History and in 2019 I was named a Pew Fellow in the Arts for literature. I have received a number of awards for my writing, including a 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography for my book Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, which also received the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award. In 2019, I was also awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize for the best book in American studies for May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, which also received the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Nonfiction. I’ve written essays, reviews, and profiles for The New York Times, Harper’s, The Paris Review, New York, and The Atlantic.
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Unsettled Territory Imani Perry
Follow Imani Perry as she does American rootwork, reexamining the country’s past and present through a literary lens, and diving deep to find meaning in both the extraordinary and the mundane.
The American accounting of our inheritance from the “mother country” leaves out how much we learned from it.
Sixty-five years after the Little Rock Nine made history, a water crisis in Jackson shows the enduring damage of an ugly past
Lessons from a life in academia
What two 18th century figures reveal about Andrew Tate—and the messiness of race.
Better than recognizing a shameful history is to learn from it