Our current list of Panelists and Moderators includes:

Hisham Aidi

Hisham Aidi teaches political science and African  Studies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.  He is the author of Redeploying the State (Palgrave 2008) a comparative study of neo-liberalism and labor movements in Latin America; and co-editor, with Manning Marable, of Black Routes to Islam (Palgrave 2009).  From 1999-2003,  he was part of Harvard University’s Encarta Africana project, and worked as a cultural reporter, covering Harlem and the Bronx, for, The New African and ColorLines.  More recently, his work has appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker and Salon.  Since 2007, he has been a contributing editor of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics and Society.  Aidi is the author most recently of Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture (Pantheon 2014), a study of American cultural diplomacy.

Zaheer Ali

Zaheer Ali is a Ph.D. student in history at Columbia University, where he is completing his dissertation on the history of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque No. 7 in Harlem, New York, 1954-1965. He worked for several years as project manager of Columbia University’s Malcolm X Project–a multi-year research initiative on the life and legacy of Malcolm X–where he associate edited an online, annotated version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X; and he contributed as a lead researcher for Manning Marable’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. He currently teaches in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, where he has taught courses on Islam in the African American Experience, and Malcolm X.

Maytha Alhassen

Maytha Alhassen is a University of Southern California (USC) Provost Ph.D. Fellow in American Studies and Ethnicity, studying historical encounters between Black internationalism and the Arab diaspora, race & ethnicity, social justice & the arts, travel & global flows, gender, media and narrative healing. Her work bridges the worlds of social justice, academic research, media engagement and artistic expression. Artistically, Alhassen writes and performs poetry and has worked as a performer and organizer for the play “Hijabi Monologues.” Alhassen regularly appears on Al Jazeera English social media focused program “The Stream” as a guest co-host/digital producer. She also shared what it means to be a US-born woman practicing Islam with CNN and regularly appears on HuffPost Live, Fusion Network, Pivot and the Young Turks. Her essay on the same topic was published in May 2011 in the first book of the “I Speak for Myself” series. Alhassen’s writings have appeared in CNN, Huffington Post, La Vanguardia (in Catalonia and Spanish), Mic, Counterpunch and in academic journals (Journal of Africana Religions, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences) and she has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and The Nation. Alhassen received her B.A. in Political Science and Arabic and Islamic Studies from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a master’s in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she researched Malcolm X’s connections to the Arab world for the Malcolm X Project and worked with arts-based social justice organization Blackout Arts Collective. As a member of the collective, she has facilitated creative literacy workshops with incarcerated youth at Rikers Island and wrote an intro on the power of Love in dismantling the prison industrial complex for an anthology of the youth’s poetry and visual art titled One Mic. Alhassen recently co-edited a book on the Arab uprisings, youth and social media with HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions (White Cloud Press). Additionally, Alhassen teaches yoga to people & communities seeking healing, is a committed global wanderluster (sawaha), and pens poems sub rosa. She can be reached through her website,; by email at; or on Twitter @mayalhassen.

Abbas Barzegar

Abbas Barzegar has been an assistant professor of religious studies at Georgia State University since 2010, after receiving his Ph.D. from Emory University. His doctoral research specialized in the formation of Sunni orthodoxy in late antiquity, while his current work explores the contemporary themes of political Islam, nationalism, and post-colonialism. He is co-director of the digital archiving and research consortium, After Malcolm: Islam and the Black Freedom Movement, housed at Georgia State University. His work has been supported by the US Institute of Peace, The British Council, The Carter Center, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Georgia Humanities Council. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, he is the co-author of Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam (Stanford, 2009). His public commentary and analysis can be found in a variety of print and broadcast media outlets, including The Huffington Post, The Guardian, CNN, Aljazeera, and Fox News.

William Chafe

Much of William Chafe’s professional scholarship reflects his long-term interest in issue of race and gender equality. His dissertation and first book focused on the changing social and economic roles of American women in the fifty years after the woman suffrage amendment. Subsequent books compared the patterns of race and gender discrimination in America. His book on the origins of the sit-in movement in North Carolina helped to re-orient scholarship on civil rights toward social history and community studies. Chafe has written two books on the history of post-World War II America, a major new overview of 20th century (America The Rise and Fall of the American Century), a history of personality and politics in modern America (Private Lives/Public Consequences), and a biography of the liberal crusader Allard Lowenstein. He is currently working on a revisionist overview of the Jm Crow era to be  entitled Behind the Veil: African American Life During the Age of Segregation. The author of  twelve books overall, he has received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (1981) for Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina and the Black Struggle for Freedom (1980),  the Sidney Hillman book award (1994) for Never Stop Running: Allard Lowenstein and the Struggle to Save American Liberalism (1993), and the Lillian Smith Award for Remembering  Jim Crow (2003).

William Darity

William A. (“Sandy”) Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and the director of the Duke Consortium on Social Equity at Duke University. He has served as chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and was the founding director of the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at Duke. Darity’s research focuses on inequality by race, class and ethnicity, stratification economics, schooling and the racial achievement gap, North-South theories of trade and development, skin shade and labor market outcomes, the economics of reparations, the Atlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution, the history of economics, and the social psychological effects of exposure to unemployment. He has published or edited 12 books and published more than 210 articles in professional journals.

Sohail Daulatzai

Sohail Daulatzai is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America and co-editor of Born to Use Mics, a literary remix of Nas’s album Illmatic. He is the curator of the exhibit Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, and editor of the limited edition, companion commemorative book of the same name, which includes an interview with Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), essays by Chuck D and Sohail Daulatzai, the work of Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Paniccioli, and others, as well as album cover art, photography, flyers and other ephemera. He has written liner notes for the 2012 release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, the liner notes for the DVD release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and the centerpiece in the museum catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980’s – Now, and his other writings have appeared in The Nation, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, and Souls, amongst others. He also curated the exhibit Histories Absolved: Revolutionary Cuban Poster Art and the Muslim International, which showcased the work of the Havana-based OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) and their political graphic art of the 1960’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s around the anti-imperialist struggles in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and other Muslim majority countries. He is the founder of Groundings, a conversation series that has included Immortal Technique, Chuck D, Rosa Clemente, dream hampton, Robin D.G. Kelley and Jasiri X.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

William David Hart

William David Hart (PhD, Princeton University, 1994) is professor of religious studies and department head at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Hart is a “critical theorist of religion” whose interests include the construction of religion and its ethical-political uses.  He is the author of three books:  Edward Said and the Religious Effects of Culture (Cambridge, 2000), Black Religion: Malcolm X, Julius Lester, and Jan Willis (Palgrave, 2008), and Afro-Eccentricity: Beyond the Standard Narrative of Black Religion (2011). Hart is an affiliate of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program.

Jamillah Karim

Jamillah Karim is an award-winning author, lecturer, and blogger. Karim specializes in race, gender, and Islam in America. She is co-author of the new book Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam (NYU Press, 2014). Her first book, American Muslim Women, was awarded the 2008 Book Award in Social Sciences by the Association for Asian American Studies. She is former associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Spelman College where she taught courses in the study of Islam for six years. In 2010 Karim traveled with her family to Malaysia where she began her blog “Race+Gender+Faith.” As an independent scholar in Atlanta, she presents her research to scholarly communities and lectures frequently within Muslim communities. She occasionally contributes articles on spirituality for Azizah Magazine. She was recently highlighted as a young faith leader in the African American community by JET magazine. Karim holds a doctorate in Islamic Studies from Duke University.

Book Titles: Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam  & American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Gender, and Class Within the Ummah

Michael Muhammad Knight

Michael Muhammad Knight is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His research focuses on representations of Muhammad’s body in the hadith and sira corpus.  He is the author of 9 books, including The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-Hop, and the Gods of New York.

Mark Anthony Neal

Mark Anthony Neal is Professor of African & African American Studies at Duke University where he was the 2010 Winner of the Robert B. Cox Teaching Award. The author of several books including the recently published Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities, Neal is also the co-editor of the acclaimed That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Neal is the host of the weekly webcast Left of Black, which is produced in conjunction with the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdiciplinary and International Studies at Duke.

Juliane Hammer

Dr. Juliane Hammer is Associate Professor and Kenan Rifai Scholar in Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in the study of American Muslims, contemporary Muslim thought, women and gender in Islam, and Sufism. She is the author of Palestinians Born in Exile: Diaspora and the Search for a Homeland (2005) and American Muslim Women, Religious Authority, and Activism: More Than a Prayer (2012), as well as the co-editor of A Jihad for Justice (with Kecia Ali and Laury Silvers, 2012) and the Cambridge Companion to American Islam (with Omid Safi, 2013). She is currently working on a book project focusing on American Muslim efforts against domestic violence, and on a larger project exploring American Muslim discourses on marriage, family, and sexuality.

Omid Safi

Omid Safi is the Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center ( , where he serves as a professor of Islamic Studies specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and Islamic spirituality. He is the Chair for the Islamic Mysticism group at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion.

Omid is an award-winning teacher and speaker, and was nominated six times at Colgate University for the “Professor of the Year” award, and before that twice at Duke University for the Distinguished Lecturer award.  At the University of North Carolina, he received the award for mentoring minority students in 2009, and the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.

He is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003). In this ground-breaking volume,  he inaugurated a new understanding of Islam which is rooted in social justice, gender equality, and religious/ethnic pluralism. His work Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, was published by UNC Press in 2006.   His Voices of Islam: Voices of Change, was published by Praeger in 2006.  His next book was published by HarperCollins, titled Memories of Muhammad, and deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.  His last volume, The Cambridge Companion to American Islam, was edited along with Juliane Hammer.  He has a forthcoming volume from Princeton University Press on the famed mystic Rumi.    The Carnegie Foundation recognized Omid as a leading Scholar of Islam in 2007-2008.    His next book from Harvard University Press deals with debates on contemporary Islam in the Iranian context.     

He has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing frequently in the New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, Al Jazeera, BBC, and international media.  He regularly blogs at On Being ( ).   He leads a summer program in Turkey, Illuminated Tours , which focuses on the spiritual dimension of Islam and the rich encounter of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism there.    The program is open to everyone.       

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