Professor of American Studies
Focuses on 20th-century African American political history and civil rights
Taoyateduta Hall 109
Professor Harris arrived at Macalester as an instructor and a visiting assistant professor in 1994, teaching courses in women’s and gender studies. In 1998 she joined the tenure-track faculty in political science and African American studies. She was tenured in 2004, earned a Juris Doctorate in 2011, and was promoted to full professor in 2013. Dr. Harris was also a founding member of the American Studies department and served as chair for eight years, including as its inaugural chair.
The breadth of courses Dr. Harris has taught is wide-ranging, and includes Foundations of U.S. Politics, Policy Analysis: Health Care in the United States, Black Political Thought, Race and the Law, and “The Obama Presidency.” Among the things she’s most proud of during her time at Macalester are the lifelong bonds she builds with her students in the classroom.
Professor Harris was a Mellon Mays Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated with a degree in American History. In 1990, she was elected Student Body President, which made her the first Black woman to serve in this role at an Ivy League institution. She earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. While in graduate school, she worked for the late U.S. Senator Paul D. Wellstone. She did a Policy Fellowship at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and also completed Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Minnesota Law School and the University of Georgia.
Harris has advocated on the national level at the Congressional Black Caucus., Locally, she was appointed as a Minneapolis Civil Rights Commissioner by Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, appointed to the Governor’s Council on Black Minnesotans by Governor Jesse Ventura, appointed to Co-Chair the Statewide Marin Luther King Holiday (twice) by Governor Mark Dayton; and appointed to the Board of Public Defense by Governor Tim Walz.
Her academic books include, Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Race Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity, (2009), Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton, (2009), Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Obama, (2011),Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Trump, (2018) and “Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag: Twenty-First Century Acts of Self-Definition” (2019). She is also the proud curator of the Duchess Harris Collection, which has 120 written for 4-12 graders.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION (2015 to the present)
2021 Thomas Jefferson Award
2020 AARP Minnesota & Pollen 50 over 50 Honoree as a “Disruptor” and “Narrative Shaper.”
2020 Distinguished Recognition for Leadership and Service from Voices Magazine
2019 Association of Black Women in Higher Education’s Presidential Award
2018 Alumni Annual Fund Donations in Honor of Duchess Harris (11), Macalester
2017 Recognition from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
2017 University of Pennsylvania, “Distinguished Service Award” for outstanding contributions to “foment an educated, engaged and informed citizenry”
2016 Sigma Beta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., “Woman of the Year”
2015 Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, “Profiles in Courage” Award