Salem State University is honored to announce award-winning author and social justice scholar Monique Morris, EdD, who will address graduating students at its annual commencement ceremonies. She will also receive an honorary doctorate from the university for her work to advance social justice causes.
“Salem State students engage in dialogue around social justice issues as soon as they arrive on campus and throughout their careers here, so it’s fitting that our commencement speaker is a social justice advocate who emphasizes the importance of making a difference and being heard,” said Salem State University President John Keenan. “At Salem State, we not only prepare students to lead in their careers, but to be active and engaged community members. Dr. Morris will be exceptional in bringing that message about affecting change to our newest alumni.”
Monique Morris, EdD
Monique W. Morris, EdD is an award-winning author and social justice scholar with three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, juvenile and criminal justice. Dr. Morris is the President/CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, a philanthropic collaborative that supports a world in which all girls and young women of color are healthy, safe, thriving, and fully empowered to dream and shape their desired reality on their terms, while dismantling structural barriers created by racism, sexism and ageism and other forms of oppression that prevent their full participation in our country’s future. In May 2020, she launched the Love is Healing Fund, which has granted nearly $3 million to more than 140 organizations nationwide, and in September 2020, she co-founded the Black Girl Freedom Fund as part of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign calling for a $1 billion investment in Black girls over the next 10 years.
Dr. Morris is an Executive Producer and co-writer of the documentary film, PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, which is based upon two of her books, Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls (The New Press, 2019) and Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (The New Press, 2016). She is also the author of Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century (The New Press, 2014), Too Beautiful for Words (MWM Books, 2012), and she worked with Kemba Smith on her book, Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story (IBJ Book Publishing, 2011). Dr. Morris has written dozens of articles, book chapters, and other publications on social justice issues and lectured widely on research, policies, and practices associated with improving juvenile/criminal justice, educational, and socioeconomic conditions for girls and women of color. Her 2018 TED talk on how to stop the criminalization of Black girls in schools has received more than 1.8 million views and been translated into 18 languages.
Dr. Morris is the Founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI), an organization that works to interrupt school-to-confinement pathways for girls, reduce the barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated women, and increase the capacity of organizations working to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence in African American communities. She served as an adjunct associate professor for Saint Mary’s College of California between 2013-2018 and has taught at the University of San Francisco and California State University, Sacramento. Dr. Morris is a 2012 Soros Justice Fellow, the former Vice President for Economic Programs, Advocacy and Research at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the former Director of Research for the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the UC Berkeley Law School. She has also worked in partnership with and served as a consultant for federal, state and county agencies, national academic and research institutions, and communities throughout the nation to develop research, comprehensive approaches and training curricula to eliminate racial/ethnic and gender disparities in justice and educational systems. Her work in this area has informed the development and implementation of improved culturally competent and gender-responsive continua of services for youth.
Dr. Morris’ work has been profiled by MSNBC, CSPAN2, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, and PBS, among other national and local print, radio, and television media. Her research intersects race, gender, education and justice to explore the ways in which Black communities, and other communities of color, are uniquely affected by social policies. She also frequently lectures on the life and legacy of the artist Prince.