Deborah Gray White ’71
Historian and author
Deborah Gray White specializes in African-American and American women’s history, in
particular issues of identity and the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality
Currently the Board of Governors Professor of History and professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, her master’s degree from Columbia University and her PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Binghamton University in 2014.
She served as co-director of “The Black Atlantic: Race, Nation and Gender” project at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis from 1997 to 1999, research professor at the Rutgers Insstitute for Research on Women from 1999 to 2000, and chair of the Department of History from 2000 to 2003.
A prolific writer, White is best known for Ar’n’t I A Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South (1985), designated one of the 100 most admired American history books by the Organization of American Historians. She also authored Let My People Go: African American 1800-1985 (1999); Too Heavy A Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 (1999); Scarlet and Black, Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History (2016), with Marisa Fuentes; and Lost in the USA: American Identity from the Promise Keepers to the Million Mom March (2017). She also edited Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008) and has also contributed to a number of prestigious journals.
She has a book in progress: Can’t We All Just Get Along: The Cultural Awakenings of the 1990s that recounts the 1990s through the lens of the decade’s mass marches and gatherings.
She was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities in 2009, and a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship in 2005. Additionally, the American Council of Learned Societies, American Association of University Women, Ford Foundation and National Research Council have all supported her work.