Ruth Nicole Brown

rnbrown@msu.edu
(517) 432-0869

FacultyAfrican American and African Studies

Inaugural Department Chairperson
MSU Foundation Professor
Professor

Biography

Ruth Nicole Brown is Professor and the Inaugural Chairperson of the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. Brown grew up in Park Forest and Chicago Heights, IL nurtured by bold and determined practices of collective possibility. She continues to activate home truths and bring other’s to futures of radical creative power and praxis through Saving Our Lives, Hearing Our Truths (SOLHOT), a collective Brown founded in 2006 to celebrate Black girlhood by meeting Black girls face to face and heart to heart.

SOLHOT has received support from The Novo Foundation (2018-2021), campus grants, non-profit institutions, and those who actively participate. A Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellow (2019-2020), Brown’s Black Girl Genius Week (BGGW) exhausts the rituals of SOLHOT to widen the cipher and experience the imaginative worlds, knowledge, and artistry that only occurs when Black girls, women, and femmes are together as homegirls. BGGW has taken place in central Illinois (2014, 2016, & 2019), Columbia, SC (2019 & 2020), and Chicago, IL (2019 & 2020).

Nicknamed “Dr. B” by the homegirls of SOLHOT, she has published two books, Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (University of Illinois Press, 2013) and Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy (Peter Lang, 2009), co-edited several anthologies, Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry: Possibilities and Tensions in Educational Research with Rozana Carducci and Candace Kuby (Peter Lang, 2014) and Wish To Live: The Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy Reader with Chamara J. Kwakye (Peter Lang, 2012), and written numerous journal articles.

Dr. Brown is an artist who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in Political Science, with graduate certificates in World Performance Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies. She earned other stripes in the SOLHOT cipher and the band We Levitate, a collaboration with bandbaes, Dr. Porshe Garner, Jessica Robinson, and Dr. Blair E. Smith. We Levitate has devised and/or performed in several SOLHOT shows, including “The Mixtape Remix” (2011) and “Check In!” (2010). Brown’s performance work also includes, “The Rest is Work” (2018) and “Thank you, for the Blood” (2020).

You can find Dr. Brown doing the healing work of connecting with those who have resisted their own destruction since the beginning of time. You can find her laughing with Black girls as they create knowledge about Black girlhood in the same halls where they are routinely shushed. You can find Dr. Brown outdoors, at work on her current project on Black girlhood and nature, lending her dandelion spores to the wind.

University News

College of Arts & Letters Faculty Honored at 2022 Investiture
Published September 29, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
A series of six headshots arranged in rows of three by three.
The Michigan State University community gathered at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts on Sept. 14 for the investiture of the 2022 class of endowed chairs, endowed professors, and MSU Foundation…Read now »
New Space Maximizes Vision of African American and African Studies Department
Published September 21, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
The newest department in Michigan State University’s College of Arts & Letters will have a new space on campus to call home.  On Thursday, Nov. 17, from 3-5 p.m. on the second floor of…Read now »
Growing an Innovative Curriculum: New and Updated AAAS Courses for Fall
Published August 17, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Four pictures of AAAS faculty.
Michigan State University’s Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) continues its upward trajectory with the addition of five new or revised courses for the Fall 2022…Read now »
New BA Degree in African American and African Studies Now Offered at MSU
Published March 29, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
For the first time in Michigan State University history, undergraduate students can major in African American and African Studies.  This semester, MSU’s College of Arts & Letters…Read now »
Ph.D. Student Honored with Community Engagement Scholarship Award
Published March 18, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Committed to raising awareness about critical issues and the academic or community-based work being done to solve them, Sharieka Shontae Botex, a third-year Ph.D. student in MSU’s Writing and…Read now »
Sonic Introductions Reflect Love of Self, Community, and AAAS
Published February 4, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
The Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) faculty wish to motivate and inspire others by sharing, through personally created Sonic Introductions, what inspires them in their work…Read now »
Student Driven by Passion for Black History, Aspires to Help Community
Published January 26, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Morgan Braswell said she is not the first in her family to attend college. But she is the first to stay the course. A sophomore, Braswell expects to graduate from Michigan State University in…Read now »
Student Aspires to Preserve Literature and Activist Thought That Shaped Her Life
Published January 21, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Growing up, Camille Jackson set a goal to pursue higher education. Now that she’s close to receiving her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, she’s expanded her goals to attend…Read now »
Exploring Cultural Identity Through AAAS Department Courses
Published January 17, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Deon Bennett came to Michigan State University intent on becoming more independent and open to new opportunities. He achieved that and more through academic and leadership activities that have…Read now »
AAAS Department to Offer Several New Classes in Spring 2022
Published December 1, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
Six portraits of AAAS faculty members.
The Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) is offering several new or revised undergraduate courses during the Spring 2022 semester that each, in their own way, highlight and…Read now »
AAAS Department Welcomes Three New Faculty Members
Published August 23, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
Portraits of 3 smiling women with short dark hair.
The Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) will welcome three new faculty members as the 2021-2022 academic year begins. In September 2021, Trimiko Melancon,…Read now »
Imagining a Different Future
Published March 9, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
By Christopher P. Long on cplong.org What follows was crafted for an MSU Honors College panel discussion entitled “Sharper Focus/Wider Lens” on March 8, 2021. Engage with me in an…Read now »
A Visionary New Build: The Department of African American and African Studies
Published March 1, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
Images of Dr. Brown and Dr. Lomax on a green background
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puv4CL70jBo Initially started as a Ph.D. granting program in 2002, with an undergraduate minor created in 2014, the Department of African American and African…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 »
Ruth Nicole Brown Named MSU Foundation Professor
Published January 14, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
a woman wearing a black top with her hand on her hip
In recognition of her innovative community-engaged scholarship and outstanding record of visionary leadership, research, and pedagogy, Ruth Nicole Brown was awarded an MSU Foundation Professorship,…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 »
Collectively Building Anew: the Department of African American and African Studies
Published October 5, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
two women standing on a bridge wearing masks
As we distance ourselves to help stop the spread of a deadly virus, a new department is being built within Michigan State University’s College of Arts & Letters — the Department of…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 »
College Welcomes New Faculty and Staff
Published September 1, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
graphic that reads "welcome our new faculty & staff college of arts and letters"
This semester, the College of Arts & Letters is pleased to welcome 22 new faculty and staff members. Please join us in welcoming the following people to Michigan State University and the…Read now »
Chairperson Appointed for African American & African Studies
Published May 15, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
woman wearing a gray top smiling at the camera
Ruth Nicole Brown has been appointed as the Inaugural Chairperson for the Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) at Michigan State University, effective July 1,…Read now »