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Dr. Derrick Darby is Henry Rutgers Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He holds a BA from Colgate University and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. In his engaging TEDx talk, “Doing the Knowledge,” Dr. Darby tells the story of discovering his passion for philosophy growing up in New York City’s iconic Queensbridge housing projects. Dr. Darby is a dynamic teacher and passionate speaker as well as an accomplished scholar. He has lectured and taught on five continents, North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Australia. His life and work have been covered by the Atlantic magazine, CNN, and other news outlets. Dr. Darby’s calling card is to harness the tremendous power of hip hop’s fifth element (knowledge) to empower his audiences to think critically and deeply about our world, the problems we face, and about ways in which we can work together to create a better world.

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Rhymes and Reasons: Hip Hop and Philosophy 

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"Derrick Darby is the first and only black tenured professor in the University of Michigan’s philosophy department...Darby was recruited to Michigan because his work fits that mold, allowing people to connect normative issues with the realities of contemporary injustice." 


"Derrick Darby, a philosopher who grew up in the Queensbridge projects, in New York City, and is the only tenured black professor in Anderson’s department, works in the Michigan-school mold, drawing heavily on empirical research. He taught 'The Imperative of Integration' in dialogue with his own data-based critique... At one point, Anderson visited Darby’s class. 'We spoke about our experiences,' he recalls, 'and why it led us to focus our work as we did': childhood for him and parenting for her. They both ended up in tears."


"Darby calls rap 'a tool of empowerment,'and he credits numerous hip-hop artists with helping deliver him to Rutgers University from New York’s Queensbridge Houses...

In 2016, Darby conducted a TED Talk on how mastering the fifth element of hip-hop – “doing the knowledge” – punched his ticket to higher education and the scholar’s life. He finds rap is an especially useful tool when it comes to amplifying oft-overlooked Black, brown and young voices, he said."

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