Michael Eric Dyson (born October 23, 1958) is an academic, author, preacher, and radio host. He is a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. Described by Michael A. Fletcher as “a Princeton Ph.D. and a child of the streets who takes pains never to separate the two”, Dyson has authored or edited more than twenty books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye, Nas‘s debut album Illmatic, Bill Cosby, Tupac Shakur, and Hurricane Katrina.
Dyson’s general philosophy is that American black people are continuing to suffer from generations of ongoing oppression. On Fox News with Tucker Carlson, Dyson suggested that white Americans (due to white privilege) should create individual reparation accounts and give money to local black communities. During the Munk Debates of 2018, Dyson either claimed or endorsed the following statements: 1) “If you’re white, this country is one giant safe space.” 2) success is easier for white people due to systemic privileges, and 3) white people should be taxed additionally due to their white privilege.
A more thorough exploration of his ideas is available in his book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.
Dyson was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Addie Mae Leonard, who was from Alabama. He was adopted by his stepfather, Everett Dyson. He attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on an academic scholarship but left and completed his education at Northwestern High School. He became an ordained Baptist minister at nineteen years of age. Having worked in factories in Detroit to support his family, he entered Knoxville Collegeas a freshman at the age of twenty-one. Dyson received his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Carson–Newman College in 1985. He obtained his master’sand Ph.D in religion, from Princeton University. Dyson served on the board of directors of the Common Ground Foundation, a project dedicated to empowering urban youth in the United States. Dyson and his third wife, Marcia L. Dyson, were regular guests and speakers at the Aspen Institute Conferences and Ideas Festival. “2011 Speakers. Marcia Dyson”, Aspen Ideas Festival. Dr. Dyson most recently hosted a television show, The Raw Word.
Dyson has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2007, he has been a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X became a New York Times notable book of the year. In his 2006 book Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Dyson analyzes the political and social events in the wake of the catastrophe against the backdrop of an overall “failure in race and class relations”. In 2010, Dyson edited Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic, with contributions based on the album’s tracks by, among others, Kevin Coval, Kyra D. Gaunt (“Professor G”), dream hampton, Marc Lamont Hill, Adam Mansbach, and Mark Anthony Neal. Dyson’s own essay in this anthology, “‘One Love,’ Two Brothers, Three Verses”, argues that the current US penal system disfavors young black males more than any other segment of the population. His last three books appeared repeatedly on the “New York Times” Bestseller list. Dyson hosted a radio show, which aired on Radio One, from January 2006 to February 2007. He is also a commentator on National Public Radio, MSNBC and CNN, and is a regular guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. Beginning July 2011 Michael Eric Dyson became a political analyst for MSNBC. He recently drew media attention for his speech at the funeral of Aretha Franklin on August 31, 2018.
The Michael Eric Dyson Show
The Michael Eric Dyson Show radio program debuted on April 6, 2009, and is broadcast from Morgan State University. The show’s first guest was Oprah Winfrey, to whom Dyson dedicated his book Can You Hear Me Now?: The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson. The show appears to have been discontinued with its last episode being in December 2011.
Awards and Nominations
Why I Love Black Women
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction, 2004, WINNER
Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction, 2006, WINNER
Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction, 2007, Nominee
American Book Award, 2007, WINNER
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
Southern Book Prize– Non-Fiction, 2018, WINNER