40th Annual MLK Celebration Keynote
Michael Eric Dyson
University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University
Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, has been University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University since 2007. He is the author of sixteen books, including I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. and April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America.
About Dyson's audiobook narration of April 4, 1968, AudioFile magazine writes: "With deep, resonant projection that at times sounds eerily like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, own voice, Dyson narrates his deep exploration into the most significant aspects of King's legacy since his assassination on April 4, 1968. Paying particular attention to how politicians and cultural leaders have utilized King and his message, Dyson contrasts the real King with the misappropriated icon."
His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X became a New York Times notable book of the year. His 2007 book, Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, won an American Book Award and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction (two of his other books also won NAACP Image Awards in 2004 and 2006).
Dyson was born in Detroit, Michigan and became an ordained Baptist minister at age 19. After working in factories to support his family, he entered Knoxville College. He went on to earned his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Carson–Newman College in 1985 and his master's and Ph.D in religion from Princeton University.
Dyson has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
In addition to teaching and writing, Dyson has hosted radio shows. The Michael Eric Dyson Show radio program debuted in 2009, and is broadcast from Morgan State University; the show's first guest was Oprah Winfrey. He regularly appears as a commentator on National Public Radio and CNN, and is a regular guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. In 2011, he became a political analyst for MSNBC.
Dyson serves on the board of directors of the Common Ground Foundation, a project dedicated to empowering urban youth in the United States. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is at work on a book about Barack Obama and race.