Ruth Nicole Brown

Inaugural Chairperson

East Lansing, MI 48824


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.