2011 Hooding Ceremony - Keynote Speaker Bio - Michael Eric Dyson
Michael Eric Dyson
University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University
Back to 2011 Hooding Ceremony Photo Gallery
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson – who is an American Book Award recipient and two-time NAACP Image Award winner – is one of the nation’s most influential and renowned public intellectuals. He has been named one of the 150 most powerful African Americans by Ebony magazine. The Philadelphia Weekly contends that Dyson “is reshaping what it means to be a public intellectual by becoming the most visible black academic of his time.” He is host of the nationally syndicated public radio program, The Michael Eric Dyson Show.
Dyson’s pioneering scholarship has had a profound affect on American ideas. His first book, 1993’s Reflecting Black: African American Cultural Criticism, helped establish the field of black American cultural studies. His next book, 1994’s Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, was named one of the most important African American books of the 20th century and was also named a Notable Book of the year by the New York Times. Dyson’s first book on Martin Luther King, 2000’s I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr., made a significant contribution to King scholarship by recovering the radical legacy of the slain civil rights leader. According to book industry bible Publisher’s Weekly, Dyson’s 2001 book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, helped to make books on hip hop commercially viable. His 2006 book Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, was the first major book on Katrina and probed the racial and class fallout from the storm. And Dyson’ 2005 New York Times bestseller Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? helped to jumpstart a national conversation on the black poor that has been called the most important debate in black America since the historic debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Dyson’s New York Times bestselling April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America, has been hailed by the Washington Post as “an excellent sociological primer on institutionalized racism in America.” His latest book is Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson.
Not only has Dyson taught at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities – including Brown, Chapel Hill, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania – but his influence has carried far beyond the academy into prisons and bookstores, political conventions and union halls, and church sanctuaries and lecture stages across the world. Dyson has appeared on nearly every major media outlet, including The Today Show, Nightline, O’Reilly Factor, The Tavis Smiley Show and Real Time with Bill Maher – and he has cemented his star appeal on such shows as Rap City, Def Poetry Jam and The Colbert Report. He is also a contributing editor of Time magazine. Dyson’s powerful work has won him legions of admirers and has made him what the Washington Post terms a “superstar professor.” His fearless and fiery oratory led the Chronicle of Higher Education to declare that with his rhetorical gifts he “can rock classroom and chapel alike.” Dyson’s eloquent writing inspired Vanity Fair magazine to describe him as “one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today.”
Dr. Dyson is presently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown
University. His legendary rise – from welfare father to Princeton Ph.D., from church
pastor to college professor, from a factory worker who didn’t start college until he
was 21 to a figure who has become what writer Naomi Wolf terms “the ideal public
intellectual of our time” – may help explain why author Nathan McCall simply calls
Dyson “a street fighter in suit and tie.”