Born to social activist parents in Birmingham, Alabama, just nine years after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, scholar and author Imani Perry grew up during a time of great change. At age 5, her family relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts; her mother earned a Harvard doctorate while Perry’s own academic and literary ambitions took root.
Today, Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University where she examines the rich, layered interplay between history, race, law and culture, with an emphasis on hip-hop music. Her interdisciplinary work is deeply reflective and also grounded in experience – her own, of those who came before her and that of the next generation.
By sharing her multifaceted perspective, Perry hopes to reframe the way we think about black culture. “If there were one impact I’d like my work to have, it would be that people would cease talking about African American history and culture in terms of deprivation or inadequacy and actually acknowledge its depth and complexity and beauty,” she says.