It was about a year ago that I began hearing the name Duchess Harris. I know, your probably thinking "Honey, you are soooo late!", and, well, yes I am. However, I am so excited that I perused through Melissa Harris Lacewell's Twitter page to look at her followers . It was then that I became instantly amazed at the page of a PHENOMENAL WOMAN by the name of Dr. Duchess Harris. I instantly put the name that I had been hearing and the face together. This led me to search for her on FACEBOOK, and then led me to her personal webpage www.duchessharris.com. So, I am here today asserting that she be recognized as the feminist that she is.
According to Black feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins, being a Black feminist requires that one believes that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together, and according to this definition Dr. Harris epitomizes Black feminism. In fact, by simply glancing at her accomplishments one can find this to be true instantly. Currently, Dr. Harris is an Associate Professor of American Studies at Macalester College, and is also a J.D. Candidate at the William Mitchell College of Law (As if it is not difficult enough to get a PhD!!!! She makes my excuses seem extremely lame!) In July, Dr. Harris was featured in Essence magazine to explain "How She Does It". In addition, Dr. Harris has recently released two, can you say 1...2..., books in the last two months. Her first book entitled Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton was released in August 2009.***Stay Tuned For My Review/Praise of this Book***
The second book, which she co-edited entitled Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Race Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity was just released in September 2009. Did I mention that Dr. Harris has three children (one who is surviving with autism), and a husband? So, as you can see this sister is Black feminism. But, these are simply the things that she is busy doing today. All made possible by academic consciousness-raising, which started early.
According to her biography, as a college student, Harris became the first Black woman to lead a Ivy League student government at the University of Pennsylvania. Harris states on her web-page:
My experience of being the first Black woman to lead a student government in the Ivy League, while simultaneously being mentored by Mary Frances Berry, inspired me to wonder how the stories of Black women's activism are told.
This early leadership and mentoring led Dr. Harris to later pursue a PhD in American Studies, and write her dissertation on "Black women’s organizing in response to Black Power and the Second Wave of Feminism" at the University of Minnesota; be featured in Ebony Magazine's Thirty Young Leaders of the Future, and eventually join the faculty of Macalester College as a Assistant Professor. Fortunately, the walls of the "ivory tower" hardly stop Dr. Harris from professing to any audience in any setting, especially since she "can find a classroom on any street corner". She is a true public intellectual. Dr. Harris travels anywhere from Selma, Alabama to Capetown, South Africa successfully sharing and gaining knowledge.
On of the most fabulous things about this Black feminist, scholar, traveler, and mother is that she finds time to update her fans, friends, and foes on Facebook and Twitter about what she learns, and has to teach. She keeps it real and savvy. Dr. Duchess "Miriam" Harris, you are great inspiration as well as an intellectual gem that is cherished by me, and so many others. Please keep up the wonderful work and thank you.
*Photos and information are from www.duchessharris.com