Mia Bay

Professor of American History, Author 

Mia Bay is the Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of American History at University of Pennsylvania. She is a scholar of American and African American intellectual, cultural and social history whose recent interests include black women’s thought, African American approaches to citizenship, and the history of race and transportation.  She holds a Ph.D. and M.Phil. from Yale University and a B.A. from the University of Toronto. Bay’s is the author of Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance (Harvard University Press, 2021), which received a 2022 PROSE Award for Excellence in American History, and is a finalist for the Los Angeles Time Book Award. Her other books include The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925 (Oxford University Press, 2000); To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) and the edited work Ida B Wells, The Light of Truth: The Writings of An Anti-Lynching Crusader (Penguin Books, 2014); as well as a number of articles and book chapters. She is also the co-author, with Waldo Martin and Deborah Gray White, of the textbook Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans with Documents (Bedford/St. Martins 2012, 1st Edition, 2016, 2nd Edition, 2020, 3rd Edition), and the editor of two collections of essays: Towards an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), which she co-edited with Farah Jasmin Griffin, Martha S. Jones and Barbara Savage, and   Race and Retail: Consumption Across the Color Line (Rutgers University Press, 2015), which she co-edited with Ann Fabian. 

Bay’s work has been supported by the Fletcher Foundation, the National Humanities Center, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello; the American Council of Learned Societies, Boston University’s Institute on Race and Social Division Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center and W.E.B. Du Bois Centers; and American Historical Association.  An Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, Bay is a member of the executive board of the Society of American Historians and serves on the editorial boards of Reviews in American History, the Journal of African American History, Modern Intellectual History and the African American Intellectual History Society’s Black Perspectives Blog. 

Bay is also a frequent consultant on museum and documentary film projects. Her recent public history work includes working with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on one of its inaugural exhibits– “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968”– and serving a scholarly advisor to the Library of Congress and NMAAHC’s Civil Rights History Project.

Bay is currently completing a new book on the history of African American ideas about Thomas Jefferson.

TOPICS: History, Race 

In the News

New york times

‘Traveling Black,’ a Look at the Civil Rights Movement in Motion

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chesterstone spy 

Author Mia Bay is Starr Center’s 2021-22 Patrick Henry History Fellow

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The Root

Flying First Class: Luxurious Treat or Insidious Bastion of Racism?

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