Salamishah Tillet received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization and A.M. in English from Harvard University and her M.A.T. from Brown University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania where she received her B.A. in English and Afro-American Studies. She is the Founding Director of the New Arts Justice Initiative.
In 2010-11, she was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow for Career Enhancement and served as a visiting fellow at the Center of African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2010, she was awarded the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013-14, she was a Scholar-in-Residence at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Her book Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012) examines how contemporary African American artists, writers, and intellectuals remember antebellum slavery within post-Civil Rights America in order to challenge the ongoing exclusion of African Americans from America’s civic myths and to model a racially democratic future.
In 2010, she co-edited the Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters Special Issue on Ethiopia and her work has appeared in American Literary History, American Quarterly, Callaloo, Novel, Research in African Literatures, Savoring the Salt: The Legacy of Toni Cade Bambara, Violence in the Lives of Black Women: Battered, Black, and Blue, and Women's Review of Books. She is currently working on a book on the civil rights icon Nina Simone.
Salamishah has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, TedxWomen, and written blogs and editorials for The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Nation, The New York Times, The Root, and Time. In 2010, she wrote the liner notes for John Legend and The Roots’ three-time Grammy award-winning album, Wake Up!. In 2013, she published Gloria Steinem: The Kindle Singles Interview for Amazon. She is the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Inc., a non-profit organization that uses art to end violence against girls and women.
Her research interests include American Studies, twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature, film, popular music, cultural studies, and feminist theory.