Dr. Tiffany M. Gill is an Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is the author of Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism in the Beauty Industry, which received the 2010 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize by the Association of Black Women Historians and co-editor of To Turn the Whole World Over. Professor Gill’s research has been supported by various foundations, including the American Association of University Women and the National Endowment of the Humanities. An award-winning teacher and a nationally recognized expert in African American Women’s History, fashion and beauty culture, business history, and travel and migration studies, she has provided expert commentary for various news outlets including National Public Radio, C-SPAN, CNBC, Vox, the Washington Post and New York Times. Dr. Gill has served as a consultant for international beauty retailer Sephora and as a historical advisor for Higher Ground, the film and television production company founded by President Barack and Michelle Obama. Named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historian in 2015 and a Regents’ Outstanding Teacher while on the faculty at the University of Texas, Gill has also been recognized by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as one of the top 25 women in higher education. Professor Gill is currently at work on a book chronicling the promise and peril of African American international leisure travel. You can find her on social media @SableVictorian.
Rather than dismissing the beauty industry as frivolous or a tool of racial and gender oppression, I discuss the ways that black women have used the beauty industry to broaden our understanding of what it means to work for black freedom. This lecture highlights an unlikely group of black women activists in the hopes that their unconventional approaches to protecting and preserving black life will be instructive as we confront the challenges of today.