Michael Eric Dyson

Facts about Michael Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson is 65 years old
Best known as: The author of the 2007 book Know What I Mean: Reflections on Hip-Hop

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Michael Eric Dyson Biography

Michael Eric Dyson is the professor, commentator and “hip-hop intellectual” who has written over a dozen books on race, politics, and the African-American experience.

Dyson’s background is unusual for a scholar: a Detroit gang member and unwed father in his late teens, he turned himself around and became an ordained Baptist minister at age 21.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman College in 1982, then went on top get a master’s (1991) and a PhD (1993) from Princeton.

His books Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X (1994) and Between God and Gangsta Rap (1995) established him as a heavy hitter in African American thought, and he became a sought-after commentator on radio and TV.

He tangled with comedian Bill Cosby in Is Bill Cosby Right? (2006), and his 2007 book Know What I Mean: Reflections on Hip-Hop came with an introduction by rapper Jay-Z, and in 2018 he made headlines as a critic of Kanye West‘s relationship with Donald Trump.

Dyson has taught at a long string of schools: the Chicago Theological Seminary (1989-92), Brown University (1993-95), the University of North Carolina (1995-97), Columbia University (1997-99), DePaul (as the first Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor, 1999-2002), the University of Pennsylvania (as the Avalon Professor of Humanities, 2002-07) and at Georgetown University (teaching English, theology, and African American studies, 2007- ).

His biographies of leading black figures include Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Love and Demons of Marvin Gaye (2004) and April 4, 1968, his 2008 reflection on the death of Martin Luther King.

Tyson’s other books include Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America (2017) and What Truth Sounds Like (2018).


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