Deirdre Cooper Owens, an award-winning historian and popular public speaker, is an Associate Professor of History at Queens College, CUNY and the Director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia, the country's oldest cultural institution. Dr. Cooper Owens believes that the job of the historian is to break the chains of ignorance one lecture, one book, one lesson plan at a time.
As a teacher and public speaker, Cooper Owens knows that staying immersed in the worlds that cultivated her growing interest in history is what keeps her not only grounded but also committed to teaching community-based history. From sitting on the front porch with her granddaddy in Kingstree, SC while he regaled her with ghost stories about the enslaved in his Gullah/Geechee inflected lilt to listening to working-class black men and women lovingly play the dozens with each other in her childhood hometown of Anacostia, SE in Washington, DC, Dr. Cooper Owens learned that stories are what draw people into wanting to know about historical actors, their lives, the institutions they built, and their movements.
Cooper Owens is a proud graduate of two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the all-women's Bennett College and Clark Atlanta University, where she met her spouse Bryan, an academic and program administrator. After earning her Ph.D. in history at UCLA, Cooper Owens held a fellowship at the University of Virginia and later taught at Ole Miss. Over the past decade she has spoken domestically and abroad from Ivy League schools to club women's parlor rooms, and has the most enjoyable time when she is engaged in conversations with the public. As one of the country's most "acclaimed experts in U.S. history," according to Time Magazine, Cooper Owens is steadily working towards making history more accessible and inspiring for all.