April Baker-Bell

(517) 884-4451

C648 Wells Hall
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyAfrican American and African StudiesEnglish

Associate Professor
AAAS Transition Team Faculty

English Education; Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Race and Ethnic Studies


Dr. April Baker-Bell is a transdisciplinary teacher-researcher-activist and Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education in the Department of English and Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. A national leader in conversations on Black Language education, her research interrogates the intersections of Black language and literacies, anti-Black racism, and antiracist pedagogies. Her scholarly interests also include antiracist writing, critical media literacies, Black feminist-womanist storytelling, and self-preservation for Black women in academia, with an emphasis on early career Black women. Baker-Bell, along with Dr. Carmen Kynard, co-founded the  #BlackLanguageSyllabus, a radical digital education resource created to celebrate the beauty of Blackness and Black Language, fight for Black Linguistic Justice, and provide critical intellectual resources that promote the collective study of Black Language. 

Baker-Bell’s book, Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, brings together theory, research, and practice to dismantle Anti-Black Linguistic Racism (a term Baker-Bell coined) and white linguistic supremacy. The book provides ethnographic snapshots of how Black students navigate and negotiate their linguistic and racial identities across multiple contexts, and it captures what Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy looks like in community with Black youth. Linguistic Justice features a range of multimodal examples and practices through instructional maps, charts, artwork, and stories that reflect the urgent need for antiracist language pedagogies in our current social and political climate.  

Baker-Bell is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the 2019 Michigan State University Alumni Award for Innovation & Leadership in Teaching and Learning, the 2018 AERA Language and Social Processes Early Career Scholar Award, the Literacy Research Association’s STAR fellowship, and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color fellowship. Baker-Bell’s research has been published in The Journal of Language and Literacy Education (JoLLE), English Education, The Journal of Literacy Research (JLR), The Journal of International Review of Qualitative Research, and Theory into Practice. 

University News

Department of English Faculty Recognized with Several Awards and Professional Recognitions
Published January 9, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
The Department of English at Michigan State University is home to a myriad of talented faculty members actively engaged in research and creative activity with several of these scholars and artists…Read now »
Working to Dismantle Systemic Racism in Healthcare Delivery
Published June 7, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
A leading Michigan State University language and literacy scholar will extend her groundbreaking work in antiracist and anti-Blackness teacher education to pediatric medicine and public health with…Read now »
Professor Honored for Anti-Racist English Language Teaching and Scholarship
Published March 25, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
Mimi Henderson-Hudson, language arts teacher at Detroit Denby High School
April Baker-Bell, Associate Professor of English and African American and African Studies, and Mimi Henderson-Hudson, Language Arts Teacher at Detroit Denby High School, have received two…Read now »
New AAAS Department to Focus on Black Feminisms, Black Genders, and Black Sexualities
Published February 17, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
image with 4 different women in each quadrant
Being built to blaze a trail in higher education with its focus on Black Feminisms, Black Genders Studies, and Black Sexualities Studies, the architects of the Department of African American and…Read now »
MSU African American and African Studies Seeks ‘Technologies of Living for Survival Into Wellness’
Published November 13, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
image with four portraits of women
The latest segment of MSU Today explored the vision, mission, and values of Michigan State University’s Department of African American and African Studies with Ruth Nicole Brown,…Read now »
Welcome AAAS Minors
Published September 2, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
two photos of women side-by-side. on the left, the woman has short hair, a black turtleneck, and dangly earrings. on the right, the woman has shorter hair, and a grid-patterned top
Dear AAAS Minors,Welcome to the new Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) at Michigan State University! We are Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, the Inaugural…Read now »
2019 Alumni Board Awards Presented
Published April 1, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
Photo of four people standing smiling standing in front of a window with the left person wearing a medal and the two middle people holding awards
College of Arts & Letters faculty and students were recognized for their outstanding achievements in leadership, teaching, innovation, and community engagement at the College of Arts &…Read now »
Early Career Award Honors Baker-Bell for Language and Literacy Work with Black Youth
Published April 17, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
headshot of a woman in a black and white striped blazer
As a high school English teacher in Detroit, April Baker-Bell says she felt ill-prepared to address her Black students’ language and literacy needs and found that she was not alone. This experience…Read now »
Addressing Issues of Teaching in the Wake of Racial Violence
Published January 1, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
Two women and a man sitting together with a book smiling at the camera
Three College of Arts & Letters faculty members recently worked together on editing a special issue of English Education journal that focuses on teaching in the wake of racial…Read now »
Faculty and Student Work Honored at National Convention
Published November 22, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
seven people standing side-by-side and smiling for the camera
The College of Arts & Letters was well represented at the 2016 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference with Tamara Butler, Assistant Professor in the Department of English and…Read now »
Dr. April Baker-Bell Joins National Council of Teachers of English
Published January 8, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
portrait of a woman with black hair and brown eyes
Dr. April Baker-Bell has been invited to join the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standing Committee on Research, and has also been named a Fellow with the Literacy Research…Read now »