Rutgers-Newark professor wins Pulitzer Prize for Critics

Salamishah Tillet, Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies and Creative and Critical Writing contributing to The New York Times, won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism on Monday for what the judges called scholarly and elegant writing about black stories in art and popular culture.

Judges wrote that his work “successfully bridges academic and non-academic critical discourse.”

Tillet joined Rutgers – Newark in the 2018-19 academic year, and in January was named executive director of Express Newark, a socially engaged art and design center. It is a “third space” for students, artists and activists, bringing together the community, campus and the city of Newark.

She graduated phi beta kappa with a bachelor’s degree in English and African American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Afterwards, she earned her master’s degree at Brown University and her doctorate in the history of American civilization at Harvard University, where she studied with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

She is the author of In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece (Harry N Abrams, 2021) and Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imaginary (Duke University Press, 2012).

Tillet Is the founding director of the New Arts Justice Initiative, an initiative for black feminist approaches to public art in Newark, and the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Inc.a non-profit organization that uses art to end violence against girls and women.

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