Tanisha C. Ford, Emerson Collective Fellow, is a professor of history at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). She has written extensively on social movements, the global economics of fashion, and Black philanthropy. She is currently writing a new book, Our Secret Society: Americaʼs Forgotten Black Powerbrokers, which uncovers the secret webs of money, power, and social influence that bolstered the Civil Rights movement. It will be published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Ford is the author of the award-winning Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul, and Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girlʼs Love Letter to the Power of Fashion, and co-author of Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful. Her feature stories and reviews have been published in the Atlantic, the New York Times, ELLE, and Harper's Bazaar, among others.
In 2019, she was named to the Root’s “100 Most Influential African Americans” list for her innovative, public-facing scholarship. Her research has been supported by multiple institutions including: the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), Harvard Radcliffe Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She is working with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on a multi-year initiative that aims to redefine U.S. philanthropy by centering non-Western forms of generosity and mutual aid. Ford received her Ph.D. in 20th century U.S. history from Indiana University-Bloomington.
- The History of Parkway Gardens, a Bucolic Haven for Middle-Class Black Families: A feature for Town & Country that examines the history of redlining in a New York suburb.
- Socialite Mollie Moon Used Fashion Shows to Fund the Civil Rights Movement: An essay for Harperʼs Bazaar that considers how, in Jim Crow America, the Ebony Fashion Fair became a popular traveling fundraiser for racial justice causes.
- Bel-Air and the Flawed Logic of ‘Black Excellence’: An article exploring the dangers of equating the concept of “Black excellence” with exorbitant wealth, especially in the time of COVID-19 and economic recession, published in the Atlantic.
- The Ghosts of 808 East Lewis Street: An investigative story for ELLE centered on Ford's Ft. Wayne, Indiana, family home—where two brutal murders were committed 60 years apart—to explore patterns of Black migration, poverty, and gun violence.