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Martha Biondi

Professor of African American Studies

Ph.D., Columbia University, 1997


Geographic Field(s):  American History, Since 1900

Thematic Field(s):  Political and Policy History; African Diaspora and African American History

Principal Research Interest(s):  African American; Post-1945 United States; urban


Martha Biondi (Ph.D., Columbia University, 1997) is a member of the Department of African American Studies with a courtesy joint appointment in the History Department. She specializes in twentieth century African American History and is the author of To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City published by Harvard University Press, which awarded it the Thomas J. Wilson Prize as best first book of the year. In 2012, the University of California Press published her book, The Black Revolution on Campus, an account of the nationwide Black student movement of the late 1960s and early Black Studies movement of the 1970s. She is currently researching a book on neoliberalism, violence and Black life, focusing on Chicago since the 1980s.

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  • Ph.D. Columbia University
  • M.A. Columbia University
  • B.A. Barnard College, Columbia University

Research Interests

  • 20th Century African American History with a focus on social movements, politics, labor, gender, cities, and international affairs


Most Recent Book: The Black Revolution on Campus (University of California Press, 2012)

The Black Revolution on Campus describes an extraordinary but forgotten chapter of the black freedom struggle. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Black students organized hundreds of protests that sparked a period of crackdown, negotiation, and reform that profoundly transformed college life. At stake was the very mission of higher education. Black students demanded that public universities serve their communities; that private universities rethink the mission of elite education; and that black colleges embrace self-determination and resist the threat of integration. Most crucially, black students demanded a role in the definition of scholarly knowledge. Vividly demonstrating the critical linkage between the student movement and changes in university culture, the book illustrates how victories in establishing Black Studies ultimately produced important intellectual innovations and had a lasting impact on academic research and university curricula over the past 40 years.

  • "Black Student Organizing and Early Visions for African American Studies," Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies (forthcoming 2012)
  • “Controversial Blackness: The Historical Development and Future Trajectory of African American Studies,” Daedalus, 140 (Spring 2011).
  • “Brooklyn College Belongs to Us: Black Students and the Transformation of Higher Education in New York City,” Clarence Taylor, ed. Civil Rights in New York City (New York: Fordham University Press, 2011). 
  • "Student Protest, 'Law and Order' and the Origins of African American Studies in California," forthcoming, in volume edited by Manisha Sinha and Penny Von Eschen, Columbia University Press.
  • "The Rise of the Reparations Movement," Radical History Review 87 (Fall 2003).
  • To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City (2003, Harvard University Press).

Teaching Interests

  • AFAM 220: The Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movement
  • AFAM/History 212: Introduction to African American History
  • AMAM 440: Black Historiography
  • AFAM 370: Black Activist Debates

Recent Awards and Honors

  • The Black Revolution on Campus won the 2012 National Book Award from the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. 
  • The Black Revolution on Campus won the 2013 Wesley-Logan Prize from the AHA and the ASALH for an outstanding book on some aspect of the history of the dispersion, settlement, and adjustment, and the return of peoples originally from Africa.
  • 2004. Myers Outstanding Book Award for To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America.
  • 2003. Thomas J. Wilson Prize awarded to To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City by the Board of Syndics of Harvard University Press as the best first book of the year.