Imani Perry (born September 5, 1972, in Birmingham, Alabama, United States) is an American interdisciplinary scholar of race, law, literature, and African-American culture. She is currently the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

Imani Perry
BornSeptember 5, 1972
Academic background
Alma materYale University (BA)
Harvard University
(JD, PhD)
Academic work
InstitutionsPrinceton University
Main interestsRace, Law, African American culture

Perry is the author of five books and has published numerous articles on law, cultural studies, and African-American studies, including a book about Lorraine Hansberry.[1] She also wrote the notes and introduction to the Barnes and Nobles Classics edition of the Narrative of Sojourner Truth.[2] Her work is largely influenced by the Birmingham and Frankfurt Schools, Critical Legal Studies, Critical Race Theory, and African-American literary criticism.[3] Through her scholarship, Perry has made significant contributions to the academic study of race and American hip hop music; she contributed a chapter to 2014's Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic (edited by Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai).


Academia and careerEdit

Perry received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in American Studies and Literature from Yale University in 1994. She subsequently earned her Ph.D. in American Civilization from Harvard University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School (from which she graduated at the age of 27). She completed a Future Law Professor's Fellowship and received her LLM from Georgetown University Law Center.[4] She credits her childhood exposure to diverse cultures, regions, and religions with her desire to study race.[5]

Before joining the Princeton faculty, Perry taught at Rutgers School of Law in Camden for seven years. She received the New Professor of the Year award in her first year and was promoted to full professor at the end of five years, also winning the Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence. Perry was also a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an adjunct professor at both the Columbia University Institute for Research in African American Studies and Georgetown University Law Center.[6]

In 2009, Perry left Rutgers to join the faculty of Princeton University. She currently holds the title of Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies and is affiliated with the Programs in Law and Public Affairs and Gender and Sexuality Studies.[7] She has two forthcoming books, one on the history of the black national anthem (from Oxford University Press) and another on gender, neoliberalism, and the digital age (from Duke University Press).[8]

In August 2014, Perry appeared on the public radio and podcast On Being, discussing race, community, and American consciousness with host Krista Tippett.[9]

Perry's research interests within African-American studies include:

  • Citizenship
  • American Politics
  • Intellectual Traditions
  • Neoliberalism
  • Culture and Life
  • Feminist Thought
  • Religious Thought

Book titlesEdit

  • 2019: Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, Penguin Random House ISBN 978-0807076552
  • 2018: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, Beacon Press. ISBN 0807064491
    • Winner of the 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
    • A New York Times Notable Book of 2018
    • A Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Book for Nonfiction
    • Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction
    • A 2019 Pauli Murray Book Prize Finalist
    • A Triangle Award Finalist
  • 2018: May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 978-1-4696-3860-7
    • Nominee, 50th NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Literary Work (Nonfiction)
  • 2018: Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation, Duke University Press. ISBN 9781478000600
  • 2011: More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States, New York University Press; ISBN 0814767370
  • 2004: Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop, Duke University Press; ISBN 0822334356
  • 2005: Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Barnes & Noble Classics Series, Notes and Introduction, Barnes & Noble; ISBN 9781593082932

Selected journal publicationsEdit

See for full list.

Controversy over arrestEdit

On February 6, 2016, Perry was pulled over by the Princeton police for speeding.[10] Her driver’s license was found to be suspended due to unpaid parking tickets, one of which was two–three years old. Perry was arrested for the outstanding warrant and physically searched. She was handcuffed, transported to the police station, and handcuffed to a bench during the booking process. Perry posted bail and was released.[11] Perry drew parallels between her experience and the ongoing national conversation concerning the mistreatment of African Americans in police custody.[12] She appeared in municipal court the month after her arrest and paid $428 in traffic fines.[13]


  1. ^ Perry, Imani (2018). Looking for Lorraine: the radiant and radical life of Lorraine Hansberry. ISBN 9780807064498.
  2. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  3. ^ "FRESH, BOLD, & SO DEF - IMANI PERRY was born in Birmingham, Alabama and..." FRESH, BOLD, & SO DEF. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  4. ^ "Imani Perry". Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  5. ^ The Editors (2011-09-16). "Up Front: Imani Perry". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-10-13.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Official website of Prof. Imani Perry". Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  7. ^ "Imani Perry | Program in Law and Public Affairs | Princeton University". Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  8. ^ "Imani Perry". Princeton African American Studies. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  9. ^ "Imani Perry — The Fabric of Our Identity". On Being. 2014-09-08. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  10. ^ Brown, Keith (2016-02-09). "Princeton U. professor accuses police of lying, making threats".
  11. ^ "Black Princeton Professor Says She Was Handcuffed to Table Over Parking Ticket". 2016-01-09.
  12. ^ "My Encounter with Princeton Police and the Aftermath". 2019-04-09.
  13. ^ "Princeton prof who griped about parking ticket arrest pays $428 fine". 2006-04-10.

External linksEdit