This week Laura dives into a conversation about race, spirituality, teaching inside and outside of prisons, and what we have yet to learn from hip hop with Dr. Derik Smith. Professor Smith talks about his own self-identity leading to his quest for knowledge and studies in African American literary culture, and shares his deep belief in creating learning communities where principles of justice and equal intellectual footing are centered, and commonalities are found. It’s not only the subject matter that Professor Smith teaches about that makes him such a gift to his students and colleagues, but also the heart and dedication with which he goes about it. We are so grateful to have spent this hour with him. 

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About Dr. Smith

Dr. Derik Smith is a professor in the Department of Literature at Claremont McKenna College; he is currently chair of the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies at the Claremont Colleges. His scholarship is anchored in the analysis of American culture and, particularly, African American literary culture. Dr. Smith teaches courses in and about American prisons. He is the author of many articles, and the book, Robert Hayden In Verse: New Histories of African American Poetry and the Black Arts Era. Professor Smith is deeply devoted, through his relationships and his work, to creating and maintaining visions of possibility and transformation.