Professor Imani Perry and Professor Taylor Contribute to #PrincetonU Series, ‘The Next Four Years’ on Race and Inequality in United States

The next president will face a range of challenges related to race and inequality, from poverty and tensions with police to the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights, incarceration and gender equity.

In the sixth installment of a Q&A series on important issues the next president will need to address, Princeton University professors Imani Perry and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor examine challenges related to race.

Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies and is affiliated with the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is the author of “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States” (New York University Press, 2011). She publishes widely on law, cultural studies and African American studies.

Taylor is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies whose research examines race and public policy including American housing policies. Her book “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” (Haymarket Books, 2016) — an examination of the history and politics of black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States — received the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book.

Q. Within your area of expertise, what issues will the next president face in the first 100 days?

Perry: The next Supreme Court confirmation (or perhaps new appointment) is an urgent matter, one that has the potential to define the scope of rights and liberty for the next several generations.

Taylor: Perhaps the most important issue facing the incoming administration will be the continuing crisis of police violence and abuse in black and brown communities. It has been almost two years since the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement and there appears to be no end of protests in sight. The Obama White House has welcomed discussion with some Black Lives Matter activists and even those roundtable discussions have not resulted in substantive police reform; it will be interesting to see if the new administration has the same open door policy. We can expect that a Trump administration would be quite hostile to the movement, while Clinton may look to continue the approach of Obama. More generally, there is deep and palpable racial tension throughout the country, whether it is anti-black racism, Islamophobia or anti-immigrant sentiment. In some cases, it has resulted in violence and so this will be a key area to watch.

Q. Within your area of expertise, what issues will the next president face over the course of his or her term?

Perry: The next president will have to face growing economic precarity for a large portion of the American public. In fact, many other pressing issues — immigration, race, policing and incarceration, and gender equity — are shaped in some significant measure by the fact that substantial swaths of our population live in actual or near poverty conditions and face downward mobility and persistent under-employment. Not only does it mean that the American Dream has grown even more elusive, it drives competition, racial animus and resentment, underground economies and deep anxieties about masculinity and traditional manhood ideals.

Taylor: I think the issues that have given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement will continue to be of extreme importance. This is not only about police violence and abuse but also the conditions of poverty and inequality that pervade many of the working class and poor neighborhoods of black and brown people across the country. Clinton has pledged to spend $125 billion to rebuild these communities and so, if we are looking at an incoming Clinton administration, it will be interesting to see how quickly she moves on this campaign promise. Clinton also gave a speech in Harlem in February pledging to work to end “systemic racism” in the U.S. What programs and allocations will be necessary to undertake such a task? If Clinton wins, this may have to be a focus of her administration.

Q. How have you examined these issues in your research?

Perry: My book, “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States,” is a multidisciplinary investigation into research on contemporary forms of racial inequality. It looks at varying forms of bias and discrimination that coexist with a stated belief in racial egalitarianism, as experienced by Asian Americans, Latinos and African Americans. Given how centrally racial issues are figuring in this election — both as an explicit topic and as an indicator of voting patterns and degrees of interest — my work speaks directly to the moment. As well, I’m a scholar of Constitutional law, with a J.D. and a Ph.D. in American civilization from Harvard University, and I write and teach in the field of race and the law, again with a broad approach that includes analyses of race as it relates to immigration, employment, voting and other constitutional rights, and criminal law.

Taylor: I have written extensively on black politics and social movements, including my most recent book, “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.” I am currently writing a book on the federal government’s promotion of single-family homeownership in the 1970s and the public-private partnerships developed in doing so. My work looks critically at the influence of private enterprise on the shaping of public policy especially as it pertains to housing. So  I  look at the issues of public policy in their historical context as well as in contemporary situations.

Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s Black Lives Matter Book Awarded Lannan Cultural Freedom Award

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation Receives Lannan Cultural Freedom Especially Notable Book Award

Princeton University Professor of African American Studies Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Authored the Groundbreaking Black Lives Matter Study

Published by Haymarket Books, February 2016

SANTE FE, NEW MEXICO – The Board of Directors of Lannan Foundation announces the winner of this year’s Cultural Freedom Especially Notable Book AwardFrom #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, written by Princeton University professor and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and published by Haymarket Books.

Established in 2014, the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for An Especially Notable Book honors nonfiction works of particular relevance to the current historical moment. The award recognizes writers whose work is of notable scholarly or journalistic quality, and also has purpose in providing ideological tools to inform and support struggles for cultural freedom and social, economic, and racial justice. 

With a $50,000 prize in 2016, the award is one of the largest of its kind in the United States and internationally.

Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy at Union Theological Seminary, writes that “Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has emerged as the most sophisticated and courageous radical intellectual of her generation” and that her “brilliant” book “is the best analysis we have of the #BlackLivesMatter moment of the long struggle for freedom in America.” 

“Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor offers us necessary reading in difficult times. Her book provides historical context and analytical rigor for understanding the movement for Black lives, one of the most dynamic political forces of the day,” said Patrick Lannan, president of Lannan Foundation. 

In From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistent structural inequality, including mass incarceration, housing discrimination, police violence, and unemployment. She argues that the emerging struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader movement for Black liberation.

First published in February 2016, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is now in its fourth printing and has been highlighted as a must-read by The GuardianBoston GlobeLos Angeles Review of BooksLe Monde Diplomatique, and The Root, among others. The book has been assigned in college classes nationwide, including at Brown University, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, New York University, University of Southern California, and Yale University. 

“I’m deeply appreciative and grateful to Lannan Foundation for this award,” said Taylor. “It shows that there is a receptive audience for honest and forceful writing about racism and injustice. The movement has opened up that space and this recognition for my book validates it.”

To speak with Lannan Foundation about the award, please contact Sarah Knopp, Director, Cultural Freedom Program, at 505-986-8160 or

To speak with author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor or to request a review copy of the book, please contact Jim Plank, Publicity, Haymarket Books, at 207-632-0701 or

If you would like to publish a photo of Professor Taylor, please use this black & white head shot and credit photographer Don Usner. 


Usner Keeanga 2Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is Assistant Professor in African American Studies at Princeton University. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies at Northwestern University. Professor Taylor writes on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. Her articles have been published in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black PoliticsCulture and SocietyJacobinNew PoliticsThe GuardianNew RepublicMs. Magazine, and other publications.  

 From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is her first book. She is currently working on a second manuscript, titled Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis in the 1970s, under contract with the University of North Carolina Press in their Justice, Power and Politics series. This book will at U.S. housing policy in the late 1960s and 1970s and its unintended consequence of reinforcing residential segregation and housing inequality.


Lannan Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity, and creativity through projects that support exceptional contemporary artists and writers, as well as inspired Native activists in rural indigenous communities. 

Toni Morrison Papers Open for Research

Toni Morrison at Princeton University

Republished from Princeton University RBSC Manuscripts Division News

The Princeton University Library is pleased to announce that the major portion of the Toni Morrison Papers (C1491), part of the Library’s permanent collections since 2014, is now open for research. The papers are located in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, in the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library. They contain more than two hundred linear feet of archival materials that document the life and work of Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate in Literature (1993) and Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities (Emeritus) at Princeton University. Morrison’s papers were gathered from multiple locations over more than two decades, beginning with the files recovered by the Library’s Preservation Office after the tragic fire that destroyed her home in 1993. Over the past eighteen months, the most significant of the papers have been organized, described, cataloged, and selectively digitized. The papers are described online in a finding aid.

Most important for campus-based and visiting researchers are some fifty linear feet of the author’s manuscripts, drafts, and proofs for the author’s novels The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008), Home (2012), and God Help the Child (2015). The only exception are materials for Song of Solomon (1977), which are believed lost. In the interest of preservation, by agreement with the author, all of these manuscripts have been digitized in the Library’s Digital Studio. Research access to digital images of Morrison’s manuscripts will be provided in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room. The study of Morrison’s manuscripts illustrates her approach to the craft of writing and help trace the evolution of particular works, from early ideas and preliminary research, to handwritten drafts on legal-size yellow notepads, and finally corrected typescripts and proofs. The early drafts often differ substantially from the published book in wording and organization, and contain deleted passages and sections.

A single yellow notepad may contain a variety of materials, including content related to other works, drafts of letters, inserts for later typed and printed versions, and other unrelated notes. Corrected typescript and printout drafts often show significant revisions. Material from various stages of the publication process is present, including setting copies with copy-editor’s and typesetter’s marks, galleys, page proofs, folded-and-gathered pages (not yet bound), blueline proofs (“confirmation blues”), advance review copies (bound uncorrected proofs), and production/design material with page and dust-jacket samples. In addition to documenting Morrison’s working methods, the papers make it possible to see how books were marketed to the reading public and media, and also to trace the post-publication life of books, as they were translated, repackaged, reprinted, released as talking books, and adapted for film.

Among unexpected discoveries that came to light during archival processing are partial early manuscript drafts for The Bluest Eye and Beloved; and born-digital files on floppy disks, written using old word-processing software, including drafts of Beloved, previously thought to have been lost. Morrison also retained manuscripts and proofs for her plays Dreaming Emmett (1985) and Desdemona (2011); children’s books, in collaboration with her son Slade Morrison; short fiction; speeches, song lyrics; her opera libretto for Margaret Garner, with music by the American composer Richard Danielpour; lectures; and non-fiction writing.

Also valuable for researchers is Morrison’s literary and professional correspondence, approximately fifteen linear feet of material, including letters from Maya Angelou, Houston Baker, Toni Cade Bambara, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Leon Higginbotham, Randall Kennedy, Ishmael Reed, Alice Walker, and others. Additional literary correspondence is found in Morrison’s selected Random House editorial files, where her authors included James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, and Julius Lester. Morrison also retained drafts, proofs and publication files related to two works by Toni Cade Bambara, which Morrison posthumously edited for publication; as well as photocopies of selected correspondence of James Baldwin, 1957-1986, and materials relating to Baldwin’s literary estate.

The remaining Morrison Papers are being processed and will be made available for research gradually over the next year, with arrangement and description to be completed by spring 2017. These include her Princeton office files and teaching materials, fan mail, appointment books (sometimes called diaries), photographs, media, juvenilia, memorabilia, and press clippings. Complementing the papers are printed editions of Morrison’s novels and other published books; translations of her works into more than twenty foreign languages; and a selection of annotated books. Morrison’s additional manuscripts and papers will be added over time.

Beyond the Toni Morrison Papers, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections holds other archival, printed, and visual materials about African American literature and history. The best files are in American publishing archives. For example, the Manuscripts Division holds the Harper & Brothers author files for Richard Wright’s books Uncle Tom’s Children (1938), Native Son (1940), Black Boy (1945), Outsider (1953),Black Power (1954), and Pagan Spain (1957); Charles Scribner’s Sons author files for Zora Neale Hurston, chiefly pertaining to her novel Seraph on the Suwanee (1948); and theQuarterly Review of Literature files of Ralph Ellison’s corrected typescripts and proofs for three extracts from early working drafts of his second, posthumously published novelJuneteenth (1999).

For information about the Toni Morrison Papers, please consult the online finding aid. For information about visiting the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and using its holdings, please contact the Public Services staff at

Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu Wins the CAA Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism

From right: Victor Ekpuk, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Salah Hassan, and Tania Bruguera at the CAA Awards

Chika Okeke-Agulu, associate professor of Art and Archaeology and African American studies, has been awarded the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism from the College Art Association (CAA) for his book Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in 20th-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015). The award, given for significant published art criticism that has appeared in publication in a one-year period, is named in honor of art critic and scholar Mather, who came to Princeton in 1910 from Johns Hopkins University as the first Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology, and became the director of the Princeton University Art Museum in 1922. Okeke-Agulu accepted the award at the CAA annual convention on Feb. 3 in Washington, D.C.

Read an excerpt from the introduction of Postcolonial Modernism:

 Let me cite three examples of how a particular perspective on the colonial history of Africa has undermined the reception and appreciation of modern African art of the type covered in this study. In their classic 1964 book on African sculpture, two eminent ethnologists, the Briton William Fagg and the American Margaret Plass, summarily dismissed the work of African modernists thus: “we are not concerned here with ‘contemporary’ African art, which for all its merits is an extension of European art by a kind of involuntary cultural colo-nialism.” More than three decades later, a European museum curator confidently justified the marginalization of contemporary African art in international art exhibitions by noting that “it seems like third-rate artwork to us because the art presented here emulates the Western tradition—this is a criterion for selection—and because it is always lagging behind, regardless of how commendable the effort might be basically.” And finally, only a few years ago the British scholar Rasheed Araeen declared the naturalistic, colonial-era portrait paintings of Aina Onabolu to be a form of “mimicry under the tutelage of colonial paternalism.”Central to these three assessments of modern African art are two important, unflattering assumptions about this work: first, the idea that it is a weak copy, a product of involuntary mimicry of European art; and second, its apparent belatedness, that is to say, its perpetual condition of being out of time, quintessentially anachronistic, and completely evacuated of any radical potential.

The Frank Mather Award for Art Criticism has been awarded each year since 1963. Professor Okeke-Agulu is the second black art historian to receive the award. Okwui Enzenor won the prize in 2006 (see: full list of past Mather recipients).

View the full list of 2016 CAA award recipients: 2016 Awards for Distinction

Visit Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu’s blog, Ọfọdunka, for more information about his work.