Christen A. Smith

Dr. Christen A. Smith is an associate professor of anthropology and African and African diaspora studies and the director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She’s an expert on Black liberation and state violence against Black communities in the Americas.

Smith can provide context on the anthropological background of police violence against Black communities. Her recent research examines the lingering and deadly impacts of police violence on Black women, communities and families in the U.S. and Brazil.

Her 2016 book Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence and Performance in Brazil explores the ironic relationship between police violence against Black Brazilians in Salvador, Bahia and the celebration and consumption of Black culture, music and art.

Smith is also the founder of Cite Black Women, which promotes the intellectual and academic work of Black women — historically overlooked and undervalued. Through a blog, podcast and social media campaign, the project pushes people to reexamine their blind spots on race and gender and start using and citing the work of Black female sources.

Location: Austin, TX

Expertise: Black liberation, resistance and state violence against Black communities in the Americas

Contact information:


Twitter: @profsassy

Listen to Christen A. Smith on KQED’s World Affairs:

Last updated July 22, 2020

Orlando Watson

Update: Orlando Watson now works in Strategic Development and News Partnerships at Facebook. His old bio is included below for posterity.

Location: Oakland, CA

Contact Information:

Twitter: @OrlandoWatson

Orlando Watson serves as a spokesman and Communications Director for Black Media at the Republican National Committee. He previously worked for Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, where he led the communications team and was the primary on-the-record spokesman, and for Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Watson is a skilled media spokesman who has made frequent appearances on MSNBC and Fox News. His work has been featured on,, Roll Call and the U.S. News and World Report.

Spokesman, Communications Director for Black Media, The Republican National Committee

Areas of Expertise: Politics, Communication, Republican Party, Republican Strategy, Republican Politics

Featured on MSNBC:

RNC Does Damage Control After Inaccurate Tweet

Featured on Fox News:

Discussing GOP outreach on “The O’Reilly Factor”

Last updated August 27, 2020


Adolphus Belk Jr.

Adolphus Belk Jr. is a professor of political science at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Belk has taught courses on American government, black politics, public policy, and race and ethnic politics in the United States.

Belk Jr.’s research has concentrated on the politics of crime and punishment, and white nationalism in American politics. His research focuses on the prison-industrial complex and the politics of mass incarceration. His work has been published in several journals, including The Journal of Race and Policy, where he also served as a guest editor in a special issue that examined how the 2008 presidential election affected race, racism, and policy in the U.S.

Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina

Areas of Expertise: American Government, Race & Ethnic Politics in the U.S., the Politics of Mass Incarceration, Public Policy

Contact Information:

E-mail: *or* email Julia Longshaw, news & media services manager,

Phone: (803) 323-4581
Twitter: @abjrphd

Dorian Warren

Dorian T. Warren is an associate professor of political science and public affairs at Columbia University. He specializes in the study of inequality and American politics, focusing on the political organization of marginalized groups, race and ethnic politics, labor politics, urban politics, American political development, social movements and social science methodology. Warren is a sought-after commentator frequently appearing on networks such as MSNBC, ABC, CNN, NPR and Bloomberg, among other outlets.

At Columbia, Warren is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and coordinates the Center for Urban Research & Policy Seminar Series. In 2013, he was included on the list of NBC’s theGrio’s 100 people making history today.  His research focuses on the intersection of labor, politics and race, as well as race and ethnicity.

Dorian currently serves on the boards of the Applied Research Center, Center for Community Change, ALIGN, the Model Alliance, the Discount Foundation and The Nation Magazine Editorial Board. Prior to his teaching position at Columbia University he worked with several organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice and the NGLTF Policy Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming The Three Faces of Unions: Inclusion & Democracy in the U.S. Labor Movement and Boxing Out: Walmart & the Politics of Labor Market Regulation from Below.

Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Columbia University

Areas of Expertise: Labor Organizing, Politics, Policy, Race and Ethnic Politics, African-American Politics, Urban Politics and Policy, American Political Development, Community Organizing, Social Movements, Social Science Methodology

Location: New York, NY

Contact Information:
Phone: (212) 854-4659
Twitter: @dorianwarren

Featured on MSNBC: 
All In With Chris Hayes


Christina Greer

Christina Greer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University – Lincoln Center (Manhattan) campus. Her research and teaching focus on American politics, black ethnic politics, urban politics, quantitative methods, Congress, New York City and New York State politics, campaigns and elections, and public opinion.

Greer’s book Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream investigates the increasingly ethnically diverse black populations in the US from Africa and the Caribbean. She finds that both ethnicity and a shared racial identity matter and also affect the policy choices and preferences for black groups.

Greer is currently writing her second manuscript and conducting research on the history of all African Americans who have run for the executive office in the U.S. Her research interests also include mayors and public policy in urban centers. Her previous work has compared criminal activity and political responses in Boston and Baltimore.

Greer received her B. A. from Tufts University and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University

Areas of Expertise: American Politics, Black Ethnic Politics, Urban Politics, Quantitative Methods, Congress, New York City and New York State Politics, Campaigns and Elections, Public Opinion

Location: New York, NY

Contact Info: 

Phone: (646) 698-6810
secondary contact info: From September to April
Phone: (212) 636-6242

Twitter: @Dr_CMGreer

Heard on NPR: For a full list, click here.

Morning Edition: Yet Another Democrat Takes The Lead In NYC Mayor Race

Greer on CNBC discussing NYC mayor race

Dedrick Muhammad

Dedrick Muhammad is the Senior Director of the NAACP’s Economic Department and the Executive Director of the Financial Freedom Center.  He has testified at Congressional briefings, participated in White House meetings and has been cited and interviewed in the New York TimesThe NationWashington Post, Chicago Tribune, CNN Headline News and Democracy Now for his expertise on economic equity, race and inequalities and politics.

He began his professional career working in higher education serving as an academic advisor at Morgan State University, where he helped coordinate a college program at the maximum-security prison for women in New York State, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Muhammad’s work related to higher education also includes his time as Executive Director of Global Justice, a network of student groups across the country dedicated to challenging the health and economic disparities throughout the world.

In 2000 Muhammad joined Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), where he served as the National Crisis Coordinator and then as the National Field Director. While at NAN Muhammad worked with organizations across the country to remove barriers to opportunity for African Americans.

 HIs professional work in economic equity began at United For A Fair Economy (UFE) where he served as coordinator of the Racial Wealth Divide Project.

While at UFE, Muhammad co-founded the State of the Dream report and has been a co-author of this annual report for five years. The report provides News, analysis and commentary on issues of race, urban development and economic disparities, among other issues in communities of color.

Senior Director, NAACP’s Economic Department

Areas of Expertise: Economics, Race & Inequalities, Politics as it Relates to African Americans

Location: Washington, DC

Contact Information:

Phone: (443) 540-1488


(When emailing please CC communications associate Nicole Kenney at

Twitter: @DedrickM

Heard on NPR: For a full list, click here.

Tell Me More: Blacks Feel Brunt Of Recession

Featured on Democracy Now: For a full list, click here.

From Recession to Depression: The Destruction of the Black Middle Class

Andra Gillespie

When she’s not in class or writing op-eds, Emory University Associate Professor of Political Science Andra Gillespie devotes most of her time to researching “post-racial” African American leadership. She’s also the editor of and contributor to “Whose Black Politics? Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership” and the author of “The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark, and Post-Racial America.”

Gillespie has been a frequent guest on NPR and WABE in Georgia.


Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University

Areas of Expertise: African American Politics, “Post-Racial” Black Leadership, Political Participation, Race and Elections

Location: Atlanta, GA

Contact Info:

Phone:(404) 727-9748


Heard on NPR:For a complete list, click here.

Talk of the Nation: Cain’s Candidacy Changes The Politics Of Race

Heard on WABE: For a complete list, click here.

Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb is the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. He was previously a history professor and director of the Institute of African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century and modern American politics and the history of the Cold War. Cobb served as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention and was selected as part of the Root 100 in 2013 — a listing of influential African American thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders.

He is a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. Cobb is the author of “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress” and “To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic,” which was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing. His collection “The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays” was published in 2007. Cobb’s forthcoming book is titled “Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931-1957.”

Cobb has contributed to a number of anthologies including In Defense of Mumia, Testimony, Mending the World and Beats, Rhymes and Life. He is a frequent contributor to and his work has appeared in The New Republic, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Vibe magazine. He has also been a featured commentator on MSNBC, National Public Radio, CNN, Al-Jazeera, CBS News and a number of other national broadcast outlets.

Professor of Journalism, Columbia University

Areas of Expertise: African American Culture & History, Cold War History, 20th-Century American Politics, Contemporary Politics

Location: Hartford, CT

Contact info:

Office: 212-851-1809


Featured on MSNBC:

Cathy Cohen

Cathy J. Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Previously she served as the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and the Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. She has published two books and numerous academic articles, and her research has been cited in media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and CNN.

Cohen founded and currently directs the Black Youth Project, an organization that focuses on empowering inner-city youth. She was a founding board member and former co-chair of the board of the Audre Lorde Project in NY. Cohen was also a founding member of Black AIDS Mobilization (BAM!) and one of the core organizers of two international conferences: “Black Nations / Queer Nations?” and “Race, Sex, Power.”

Cohen has served as an active member in numerous organizations such as the Black Radical Congress, African-American Women in Defense of Ourselves, and Ella’s Daughters. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Arcus Foundation, Chicago Votes, and the University of Chicago Charter Schools.

The David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago    

Areas of Expertise:  American Politics, African-American Politics, Marginalized Groups, Social Movements, Women’s Health Issues

Location: Chicago, IL 

Contact Info:


Phone: (773) 702-8051

Twitter: @cathyjcohen

Heard on NPR:

All Things Considered: Obama To Push State Of The Union Messages In Chicago



Michael Leo Owens

Michael Leo Owens is an Associate Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, researching urban politics, state and local politics, the politics of criminal punishment, governance and public policy processes, religion and politics, and African American politics.

Owens currently serves on the national advisory boards of the Georgia Justice Project and Foreverfamily, as well as the editorial boards of Perspectives on PoliticsJournal of Urban Affairs, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. He is also a volunteer with the Youth Diversion Program of the DeKalb County Juvenile Court

Owens, former Chair of the board of the Urban Affairs Association, teaches courses on various topics ranging from “Religion and Social Welfare Policy” to “Urban Politics” to “Politics & Punishment.’” In 2007, he published his first book “God and Government in the Ghetto,” in which he examines the political relationship between African-American churches and public agencies.

For his upcoming book project “Prisoners of Democracy,” Owens is studying the public policies and attitudes “that diminish the citizenship of felons in the United States.”

Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University 

Areas of Expertise: Politics, Urban Politics, State and Local Politics, Political Penology, Government, Public Policy, Religion and Politics, African-American Politics

Location: Atlanta, GA

Contact Info:

Phone (office): (404) 727-9322


Twitter: @milo_phd


Heard on NPR: For a complete list, click here.

Morning Edition: The Economic Legacy Of Atlanta’s Olympic Games

Added January 2013. Last verified January 2021.