A scholar, writer, and activist, Salamishah Tillet was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2022 for her work as a contributing critic at large for The New York Times where she has been writing since 2015.


She is the author of In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece (Abrams, 2021), and Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012).

She was the co-host and co-producer of Because of Anita podcast with Cindi Leive of The Meteor. In 2022, “Because of Anita” won a Webby Award and Gracie Award.

She was awarded the 2020 Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction fellowship for her cultural memoir, All The Rage: Mississippi Goddam and The World Nina Simone Made. In May, she was named a 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for her next project, In Lieu of the Law: “Me Too’ and The Politics of Justice, a cultural history of the world’s largest social media movement.

Currently, she is the Henry Rutgers Professor of Creative Writing and African American and African Studies and the director of Express Newark, a center for socially engaged art and design at Rutgers University - Newark. Upon arriving at Rutgers, she founded New Arts Justice, an initiative for feminist approaches to public art in the City of Newark.

With her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, she founded A Long Walk Home, an arts organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and African American Studies and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, her Masters of Art in Teaching in English from Brown University, and her Masters of Art in English and American Literature and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University.