Rachel L. Swarns, a New York Times correspondent since 1995 and author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, will join the faculty of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as an associate professor.
“We’re tremendously excited to be bringing into the department a brilliant journalist whose range extends from reporting on politics and international affairs to investigating the complexities of hidden history,” says Professor Perri Klass, director of the Carter Journalism Institute.
Swarns, who currently writes about race and race relations for the Times, researched and wrote a series of stories last year about Georgetown University’s roots in slavery. The articles touched off a national conversation about American universities and their ties to this painful period of history.
She has been a Metro columnist, a Washington correspondent, and a foreign correspondent for the paper, reporting from Russia, Cuba, Guatemala, and Southern Africa, where she served as the Johannesburg bureau chief. Prior to joining the Times, she worked for the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times.
She is a co-author of Unseen: Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives, which will be published by Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette Books in October. Her forthcoming book about Georgetown’s ties to slavery will be published by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House.
Swarns also serves as an academic advisor to the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, D.C., which is launching an exhibit based on American Tapestry, her book about Michelle Obama’s ancestors.
American Tapestry, published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins, in 2012, traces the former first lady’s forbears back to the 1800s and identifies, for the first time, the white ancestors in Mrs. Obama’s family tree through archival research and DNA testing.
Swarns will begin her faculty position at the Carter Journalism Institute in September 2018.
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