Barbara Ransby

Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and History; LAS Distinguished Professor; Director, Social Justice Initiative at UIC


Barbara Ransby

Barbara Ransby 
Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Barbara Ransby is a historian, writer and longtime community activist. Well-known for her work in 20th century African-American and women’s history and civil rights and other social change movements, Ransby has spent much of her career creating forums for public discourse that link academics to the community at-large.

Through the Social Justice Initiative at UIC, she leads efforts to build upon ongoing socially conscious research and interests across different disciplines on campus, improve connections with community partners and serve students interested in social justice work.

While Ransby has published in numerous scholarly and popular publications and lectures widely, she is most notably the author of an award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, titled “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision” (2003). Her other books include “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century” (2018), and “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson” (2013).

She serves on the editorial board of several academic journals and is editor-in-chief of SOULS, a critical quarterly journal of black politics, culture and society.

Subject Areas:

  • African-American history
  • Black history
  • Civil rights
  • Gender studies
  • Social Justice
  • Women’s issues
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