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Dynamic Justice Activist Joins PSU

Walidah Imarisha to lead Center for Black Studies

Walidah Imarisha, educator, writer, academic and spoken word artist, is an expert on problems with America’s prison system. Her nonfiction book, ‘Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison and Redemption’ won a 2017 Oregon Book award. PHOTO BY PETE SNOW, COURTESY WALIDAH IMARISHA

Walidah Imarisha, Portland author, teacher and criminal justice activist, has recently been hired full-time by Portland State University’s Black Studies Department as an assistant professor and the new director of the Center for Black Studies.

Ethan Johnson, who chairs the Black Studies Department, said the activist and writer is a welcome addition to his department.

“She is a super dynamic person and I am so pleased to have her in Black Studies,” Johnson said.

Imarisha has also taught creative writing in the masters of fine arts program at Pacific Northwest College of the Arts, at Stanford University, Portland State University and Oregon State University. She also created the Oregon Black History Timeline, available on YouTube, exploring key moments in Oregon black history.

She also continually connects with people who are incarcerated in Oregon, connecting with Black leaders within the prison system. Her years of volunteer activism in the state’s prisons led her to write “Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison and Redemption,” which won the Oregon Book Award in 2017.

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