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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