Garrett Felber is a scholar of 20th century African American history at the University of Michigan in American Culture. He earned a B.A. in English and American Studies from Kalamazoo College and a M.A. in African American Studies from Columbia University. His dissertation, Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam and the Politics of Black Nationalism in the Civil Rights Era, demonstrates the centrality of black nationalism in the postwar black freedom struggle by exploring the politics of the Nation of Islam (NOI) in prisons, courtrooms, and on college campuses.

His teaching and scholarship focuses on 20th -century U.S. cultural and political history, African- American social movements and intellectual history, mass incarceration and carceral studies, and the global Cold War. He is co-author of the The Portable Malcolm X Reader (Penguin, 2013) with Manning Marable and has been published in the Journal of African American History, SOULS, and South African Music Studies. His public scholarship has been featured in The Guardian, The Boston Review, The Marshall Project, U.S. News, Viewpoint Magazine, and Process: A Blog for American Historians. Felber blogs regularly for the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) and has given invited lectures at Harvard University, New York University, and Reed College. In 2015, he founded the Black History Study Group and Freedom Library at the Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland, OR.



  • “Those Who Say Don’t Know and Those Who Know Don’t Say”: The Nation of Islam and the Politics of Black Nationalism, 1930-1975

    Guest Editor and Contributor:

  • Guest editor, “Malcolm X: The New Sources,” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, 12, 2 (2010).
  • Guest editor, “Malcolm X: The New Scholarship,” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, 12, 1 (2010).
  • Contributor to Akinyele Umoja, Karin Stanford, Jasmin Young, eds., Black Power Encyclopedia, 1965-1975 (forthcoming) and Kenneth T. Jackson ed., Encyclopedia of New York City, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).


Racial and social justice is at the center of my role as an educator. My primary teaching goal is to move beyond “teaching history” to teaching the practice of history. This is a holistic process built around three key components: building community, incorporating diverse learning styles, and extending learning beyond the classroom. Since many of my courses study social movements, I ask my students to think of the class as a community with similar dynamics and tensions. Beginning with the simple idea that students must be accountable to one another, we eventually become a collective resource through research, editing, and public presentation.

The most crucial aspect in the practice of history is what I call “extending the classroom.” Extending the classroom means helping students to bring the lessons and tools of the classroom to their daily lives, campus events, student organizing, and beyond their college careers. By extending the classroom, students can create other networks and communities using the raw material they learn within it. Building a community of diverse ideas and learning styles within the classroom provides the foundation for extending lessons beyond it. And it is this practice of history that produces the most transformative moments. My core philosophy as a teacher, researcher, and colleague is rooted in the lessons of educators and social activists who have emphasized justice over diversity, democratic organizing over charismatic leadership, and the campus as a space to serve and extend rather than to cloister and safeguard.


2016          University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (PhD)
Department of American Culture
African American and Diasporic Studies Certificate
2009 Columbia University, New York, NY (MA)
Institute for Research in African-American Studies
2007 Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI (BA)
English, American Studies
2016-2017 One-Term Dissertation Completion Fellowship, University of Michigan
2016-2017 Joh H. D'Arms Spring/Summer Fellowship, University of Michigan
2015-2016 Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan
2015-2016 Mayers Fellowship, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
2014-2015 Sweetland Dissertation Writing Institute Fellowship, University of Michigan
2013-2014 Research Fellowship, Program in Race, Law and History, Michigan Law School
2013-2014 Larry J. Hackman Research Residency, New York State Archives
2013-2014 Rackham Humanities Research Fellowship, University of Michigan
2010-2015 Department of American Culture Fellowship, University of Michigan
2008-2009 Paul Robeson Fellowship, Columbia University
2016           Samuel and Marion Merrill Graduate Student Travel Grant, OAH
2015           Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, University of Michigan
2015 Atlanta Clark University, Robert W. Woodruff Library Research Travel Award
2015 Rackham Graduate School Travel Grant, University of Michigan
2015 American Culture Graduate Student Travel Award, University of Michigan
2012 Walter Rodney Graduate Essay Award, University of Michigan
2009 Zora Neale Hurston Award for Thesis in the Social Sciences, Columbia University


gfelb [at] umich [dot] edu