Dr. Barbara Ransby


As a historian who writes about radical Black women, I take inspiration from my subjects’ fierceness and fortitude. In this moment, I am excited to launch and lead The Portal Project, which will convene cutting edge scholars and front-line activists in conversations about how to change a world deeply in need of change.


Dr. Barbara Ransby is a widely acclaimed historian of the Black Freedom Movement, award-winning author, and longtime activist. She is the John D. MacArthur Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Black Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also directs the Social Justice Initiative, which promotes connections between academics and community organizers working on social justice. A founding member of Scholars for Social Justice, she works closely with activists in the Movement for Black Lives and The Rising Majority. She is an elected fellow in the Society of American Historians, as well as a recipient of the Angela Y. Davis Prize for public scholarship from the American Studies Association.

Ransby is the author of multiple books, including the award-winning Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson, and Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century.