Dr. Richard D. Benson II was appointed as Associate Director of the Center for Urban Education and is Associate Professor of the Black Radical Tradition in Education in the department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy in 2022. Benson received his PhD in Educational Policy Studies specializing in History of Education from the University of Illinois in 2010. As a historian of education, Benson specializes in the Black Freedom Movement, the Black Radical Tradition, and transnational social movements.
Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh faculty, Benson was an Associate Professor in the Education Department at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has received several grants, fellowships and awards including the 2019/2020 Robert A. Corrigan Visiting Professor in Social Justice at the San Francisco State University (SFSU) College of Ethnic Studies; and the W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholars Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (2018/2019 and (2022/2023). He is the award-winning author of Fighting for our Place in the Sun: Malcolm X and the Radicalization of the Black Student Movement 1960-1973 (Peter Lang Publishing, 2015), which is a text that examines the linkages and inter-generational continuity of the Black Freedom Movement that evolved from the social pedagogy and political influences of Malcolm X. Dr. Benson is currently working on two book manuscript projects, Funding the Revolution: Black Power, White Church Money, and the Financial Architects of Black Radicalism 1966-1976 (State University of New York Press) and Harold Washington: Black Power Politics and United Front Radicalism in the City of Wind (Polity Press).
- Benson, R. (2022) Issue Introduction: ‘(Re) Framing the Beautiful Struggle: Black Student and Black Youth Activism’, Special Issue Guest Editor, Zanj: The Journal of Critical Global South Studies. https://www.scienceopen.com/journal-issue?id=54088e28-4792-45ed-a163-0b47db7d797b
- Benson, R. (2022) ‘A Learning Laboratory of Liberation: The Communiversity of Chicago’, in Expanding the Boundaries of Black Intellectual History.
- Benson, R. (2021) ‘Naming Our Own & Claiming Black Womanhood’: The Spelman College Protest of 1976 Palimpsest A Journal of Women, Gender and the Black International.
- Benson, R. (2019) ‘Ain’t No Rest for the Weary’: Continuing the Historical Legacy of Educational Praxis and Advocacy for Black Youth. Black Radical Pedagogy –Special Issue. Journal of Intersectionality,
- Aviles A., Benson R., & Davila, E.R., (2019) ‘City of Wind, City of Fire’: Education and Activism in Chicago, 1966-1975. Journal of Critical Pedagogy.
- Davila, E.R., Aviles, A.M. & Benson, R., (2019) ‘Our political line was to serve the people: Community education and the transformational praxis of the Chicago Young Lords Organization. In T. R. Berry, C.A. Kalinec-Craig & M.A. Rodriguez (Eds.), Latinx Curriculum Theorizing.
- Benson, R., (2017) Black Student-Worker Revolution and Reparations: The National Association of Black Students: 1969-1972, Phylon.
- Benson, R. (2017) ‘The Wind You Hear is the Birth of Memory’, in Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: Oral Histories of (Mis)Educational Opportunities in Challenging Notions of Achievement, Eds., Yoon Pak, LaTasha Louise Nesbitt and Suzanne M. Reily.
Digital Scholarly and Public Writing
- “An Unsung Heroine: The Life and Radical Activism of Jewell Mazique,” U.S. Intellectual History Blog. Society for U.S. Intellectual History Blog, March 9, 2019
- “A Complex Revolutionary: Remembering the Multi-Dimensional Malcolm X,” New BlackMan in Exile
- “Reclaiming Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Vision,” Black Perspectives. African American Intellectual History Society, February 1, 2018
- “The Hip Hop Pedagogy and Innovative Prose of Rakim Allah,” Black Perspectives. African American Intellectual History Society, September 15, 2017
- “Black Left Student Radicalism of the 1970s: The February First Movement,” Black Perspectives. African American Intellectual History Society. June 22, 2017
- "Black Power, Education, and the History of the Peoples College,” Black Perspectives. African American Intellectual History Society, May 17, 2017
Selected Research Grants and Fellowships
- The Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Summer Short Term Fellowship, Chicago, IL., 2022, $4000
- The W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholars Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2022, $4500
- UNCF-Mellon Faculty Residency Fellowship, UNCF/Mellon, Chicago, IL., 2021, $10,000
- The W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholars Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2018, $5000
- C.L.R. James Research Fellowship by the African American Intellectual History Society, 2018, $2000
- Henry C. McBay Research Fellowship, UNCF, Washington, D.C., 2017, $15,000
- Faculty Residency Fellowship, UNCF/Mellon, London, England, 2016, $18,000
Awards and Honors
- W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholar, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2022/2023
- New York University, Scholar in Residence, Summer 2022
- Robert A. Corrigan Visiting Professor of Social Justice, San Francisco State University, 2019/2020
- New York University, Scholar in Residence, Summer 2019
- W. E. B. Du Bois Scholar, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2018/2019
- Presidential Scholars Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Spelman College, 2017
- New York University, Scholar in Residence, Summer 2017.
- Anna Julia Cooper and CLR James Award for Outstanding Scholarly Publication in Africana Studies, National Council of Black Studies, Los Angeles, CA 2015