The Scholar and Journalist

I hold a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina (Tar Heel, always) and a PhD in history from Duke, where I specialized in the late 19th century, African-Americans, gender, and the law. Currently, I am the senior editor with Rewire.News, the leading online publication about reproductive health, rights, and justice. I'm at work on a book about African-Americans and abortion from 1860 to the present. Did I say I'm ambitious?

The Writer

My goals as a writer-historian are few. I write what I like, to quote South African freedom fighter Steve Biko. I want to capture sweetness and harm, sometimes in the same piece. I need to show that the present is always in bed with the past. I write to cross boundaries promiscuously, even and perhaps especially the boundaries of my own thinking and making. I translate my innate nosiness into articles — and a hybrid career of my own making. And, importantly, I want to bridge the gaps between academic writing and that wordsmithing my grandmother could read — and would want to read. And because I am something of a contrarian, I write to show scholars who sneer at "popular" writing that having a mass audience is not a shame, but a privilege and a labor of immense proportions. Not everybody can do it, even when they try. That's not #shade, just fact.

The Person

There's more to life than accolades. You should know where I'm from: I'm a lifelong Southerner by birth, residence, and culture. I call myself a bi-Carolinian with roots in eastern South Carolina (no, not the Low Country) and the mountains of Western North Carolina. I'm a country cosmopolitan who travels but always returns home. And I come from people who were farmers, schoolteachers, social workers, soldiers, and thinkers, even when they couldn't read or write. I take my land and my literacy — pillars of my people's freedom and my own —seriously.


Curriculum vitae available by request.