Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ph.D.
Schomburg Center for
Research in Black Culture
New York Public Library
New York City
Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ph.D., found lessons in excellence in his own family. He is the great-grandson of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, a founder of the Nation of Islam movement, and the son of Ozier Muhammad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for The New York Times. Their legacy is a fierce dedication to preserving Black history. “Every summer, from the age of nine until I headed to college, my father took me to every museum and cultural institution dedicated to Black people’s experiences,” he recalls. His recent appointment as director of the New York Public Library’s world-famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a natural fit.
He begins this role in July and plans to immediately start work on enticing a new generation of Schomburg supporters among school-age children. “Every generation of youth must learn for itself why Black history matters,” Muhammad says. Until then, he continues as a newly tenured associate professor of American history at Indiana University.
A renowned scholar in race relations, Muhammad was named associate editor of the Journal of American History last August, and is the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard University Press). He appears on National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio and Radio One, and writes for theDefendersonline.com, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund blog.
Muhammad has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in American history from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “I’ve always believed that passion is the single most important ingredient to success,” he muses. He credits his mother, Kimberly B. Muhammad, Ph.D., who worked as a teacher and administrator at the Chicago Board of Education for 35 years, with instilling in him an unwavering passion to learn and strive for greatness.
Last movie: “The Fighter”
Sports team: Chicago Bears
Favorite book: “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin