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Shelby, Tommie 1967-

Shelby, Tommie 1967-


Born 1967. Education: Florida A&M University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1990; University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D., 1998.


Office—Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University, Barker Center, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail—[email protected]


Ohio State University, Columbus, assistant professor of philosophy, 1998-2000; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, John L. Loeb associate professor of social sciences and of African and African American studies, 2000—.


American Philosophical Association (eastern division), American Political Science Association.


Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholarship in Philosophy, Florida A&M University, 1988-90; teaching fellowships, University of Pittsburgh, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1994-95; Cultural Studies Graduate Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 1993-94; Provost Development Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 1995-96; Michael R. Bennett Graduate Student Essay Prize in Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh, 1996; College of Humanities Minority Dissertation Fellowship, Ohio State University, 1996-98; Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University, 2000-01; Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Minorities, 2002-03.


(Editor, with Derrick Darby) Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason, Open Court (Chicago, IL), 2005.

We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Contributor to Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy On-Line, edited by Edward Craig, Routledge, 2005. Contributor to periodicals, including Fordham Law Review, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Political Theory, Philosophical Forum, Social Theory and Practice, Journal of Social Philosophy, and Ethics.


Tommie Shelby is a philosopher and political scientist whose primary interests include African-American philosophy and philosophical perspectives on race and racism. In his We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity, Shelby writes about the concept of "black solidarity" and attempts to place it on solid moral and theoretical grounds.The book is a response to critics of black solidarity who see it as irrational, unnecessary, and ultimately at odds with the goal of integration and liberal ideas in America. Shelby, who views black solidarity as a tool for complete emancipation, discusses his ideas within the context of black political thought by such notable thinkers as Martin R. Delany, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Malcolm X. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "does an excellent job of summarizing the central tenets in black political thought" and also commented on his "determinedly clear" writing. Orlando Patterson, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called Shelby "a sparkling new talent with … boldness and intellectual self-assurance." Patterson went on to note: "It is impossible in the short space of a book review to do justice to the complexity and thoroughness of Shelby's analysis. He knows how to ask all the right questions." Patterson added: "His answers, while drawing on other scholars, and not always on the mark, are rarely without originality."

Shelby is also the editor, with Derrick Darby, of Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason. The book's sixteen essays relate how age-old questions in philosophy—from the search for God to why humans commit acts of violence—are ingrained in hip hop music lyrics. The book includes a discography.



New York Times Book Review, January 8, 2006, Orlando Patterson, review of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, August 22, 2005, review of We Who Are Dark, p. 51.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2006, review of Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason.


University of Harvard Department of African and African American Studies Web site, (July 22, 2006), faculty profile of Shelby.

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