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Professor Salamishah Tillet of Rutgers-Newark receives the Pulitzer Prize | Rutgers University

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Salamishah Tillet, a professor at Rutgers University in Newark, has received a Pulitzer Prize for criticism for her New York Times essays on race in arts and culture, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced today.

Tillet is the Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies and Creative Writing at Rutgers-Newark and Director of Express Newark, a socially engaged art and design center that brings together the Rutgers-Newark community and the people of the city. She joined the faculty in 2018.

” I am delighted. I am deeply honored and touched by this recognition of my work,” Tillet said after receiving news of the award.

A contributing writer for The New York Times since 2015, Tillet’s work spans popular culture, gender, sexuality, race and politics as they unfold in both popular entertainment and high art, Netflix series at museum exhibits.

Since 2020, the murder of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests have informed how she approaches her role at The New York Times, she said.

“I really wanted to pay attention to how culture and art can be both an indicator of change and maybe also an alternative to the problems we have today,” Tillet explained. “Most of my work over the past year has focused on how Broadway, television, film or photography have explored this loss, but also offered us comfort, and in particular the role of black artists like way to figure out how to get through what is truly a traumatic and profound time for our nation.”

Tillet, who lives in Newark, received his bachelor’s degree in English and African American studies from the University of Pennsylvania, his master of arts in education from Brown University and his doctorate. in American Studies from Harvard University.

His recent work includes the podcast series Because of Anita, which focuses on the impact of Hill’s testimony in 1991 at hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, where she accused him of sexually harassing her.

Tillet is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imaginary and men Search for the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece. She was recently awarded the 2020 Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant for her ongoing work, All The Rage: Mississippi Goddam and the World Nina Simone Made.

At Rutgers-Newark this year, Tillet organized black portrait[s] VII: Game and performancea conference that included the acclaimed photography exhibition Imagining the Black Girl: Moments of Possibilityy, featuring the work of 85 black girls, women and genderqueer artists ages 8-94. It was curated by her sister, photographer Scheherazade Tillet and Zoraida Lopez-Diago and is featured at Express Newark through July.

Tillet expressed his gratitude to Rutgers-Newark for nurturing his college plans. “My colleagues, especially at Express Newark and in Africana Studies and the MFA program, are true guides to my work and I’m just honored to be at a university that gives me the space to imagine and collaborate and really focus. about art that matters to the city of Newark but hopefully can change lives as well,” she said.

Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor praised Tillet’s work. “She is a brilliantly incisive observer and artist-activist. Bringing the full depth and breadth of who she is to every article she writes, she amplifies the voices we all need to hear and prismatically reveals spectrums of lived experiences and insights we all have. need to see,” Cantor said. “She so deserves the recognition of a Pulitzer Prize.”

Rutgers-Newark School of Arts and Sciences Dean Jacqueline S. Mattis added, “This award recognizes the power of Salamishah Tillet’s voice and her impact as a force for cultural and sociopolitical transformation in the United States. .. We are proud that she is advancing these conversations through her work at The New York Times, and proud that she continues to be a leading voice on these issues here at Rutgers-Newark. ”