Barbara Ransby is an award-winning writer, historian and longtime political activist whose work spans some of the most important contemporary movements in this country.
She is most notably the author of the multiple award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, entitled Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision. The book won eight esteemed awards, including the Outstanding Book Award by Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America (2004), the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians (2003) and the James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (2004).
Ransby is an initiator of several organizations. She co-founded the Black Radical Congress in 1998 and initiated African American Women in Defense of Ourselves in 1991. She also co-founded the Progressive Media Project and has worked on the editorial board of Race and Class journal. She also serves on the editorial advisory board of the Black Commentator.
Ransby has published dozens of articles and essays in popular and scholarly venues. Her essays include: “Afrocentrism, Cultural Nationalism and the Problem with Essentialist Definitions of Race, Gender and Sexuality,” reprinted in Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience; “U.S.: The Black Poor and the Politics of Expendability,” in Race and Class; and “Fear of a Black Feminist Planet,” reprinted in Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader on the Black Struggle.
Ransby received her B.A. from Columbia University and her Ph.D in history from the University of Michigan, where she was a National Mellon Fellow. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Departments of African American Studies and History.
Ransby is a recipient of the national Ford Foundation post-doctoral fellowship for 2000-2001 and numerous other recognitions and awards. She also received the prestigious Catherine Prelinger Scholarship Award for her overall contributions to women’s history and her unconventional scholarly career.
She is currently working on two major research projects; a study of African American feminist organizations in the 1970s, and a political biography of Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson.