Michael Eric DysonWriter / Educator
Born: 23 October 1958
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Best known as: The author of the 2007 book Know What I Mean: Reflections on Hip-Hop
Michael Eric Dyson is the professor, commentator and "hip-hop intellectual" who has written over a dozen books on race, politics, and the African-American experience. Dyson's background is unusual for a scholar: a Detroit gang member and unwed father in his late teens, he turned himself around and became an ordained Baptist minister at age 21. He earned a bachelor's degree from Carson-Newman College in 1982, then went on top get a master's (1991) and a PhD (1993) from Princeton. His books Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X (1994) and Between God and Gangsta Rap (1995) established him as a heavy hitter in African American thought, and he became a sought-after commentator on radio and TV. He tangled with comedian Bill Cosby in Is Bill Cosby Right? (2006), and his 2007 book Know What I Mean: Reflections on Hip-Hop came with an introduction by rapper Jay-Z. Dyson has taught at a long string of schools: the Chicago Theological Seminary (1989-92), Brown University (1993-95), the University of North Carolina (1995-97), Columbia University (1997-99), DePaul (as the first Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor, 1999-2002), the University of Pennsylvania (as the Avalon Professor of Humanities, 2002-07) and at Georgetown University (teaching English, theology, and African American studies, 2007- ). His biographies of leading black figures include Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Love and Demons of Marvin Gaye (2004) and April 4, 1968, his 2008 reflection on the death of Martin Luther King.
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