Professor of American Studies, Department Chair
Focuses on 20th-century African American political history and civil rights
Neill Hall 109
Duchess Harris' fourth book will be available December 15th. 'Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA" is about the Black women who did mathematical calculations for John Glen to go to the moon. Harris was motivated to write this book with Sue Bradford Edwards because her grandmother was in the group of the first 11 recruited to work at NASA.
It’s an important story, important enough to be included in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture that opens Sept. 24, and now Harris and others are telling the tale of how women like Harris’ grandmother and namesake, Miriam Mann, were recruited to work as engineers for still-segregated NASA in the 1940s. In December, the tale will receive the Hollywood treatment via “Hidden Figures,” a Ted Melfi-directed and Janelle Monae-starring biopic of the pioneering women. But Harris’ real-life version is compelling all on its own.
Duchess Harris, is a professor and chair of the American Studies Department at Macalester College. Her other publications are the co-authored book Black Lives Matter (Essential Library) with Sue Bradford Edwards, Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton/Obama (Palgrave Macmillan), and an edited volume with Bruce Baum, Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Race Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity (Duke University Press).
Professor Harris was a Mellon Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. She spent her final year in grad school as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School. She received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law. In 2015 the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers chose her to receive "The Profiles in Courage Award."