Beverly Guy-Sheftall is founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center (since 1981) and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College. She is also an adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for Women’s Studies where she teaches graduate courses in their doctoral program. She is currently President of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).
At the age of 16, Guy-Sheftall entered Spelman College where she majored in English and minored in secondary education. After graduation with honors, she attended Wellesley College for a fifth year of study in English. After a year at Wellesley, she entered Atlanta University to pursue a master’s degree in English. Her thesis was entitled “Faulkner’s Treatment of Women in His Major Novels.” A year later Guy-Sheftall began her first teaching job in the Department of English at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1971 she returned to her alma mater, Spelman College and joined the English Department.
Guy-Sheftall has published a number of texts within African American and Women’s Studies which include the first anthology on Black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1979), which she coedited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith; her dissertation, Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880-1920 (Carlson, 1991); Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (New Press, 1995); an anthology she coedited with Rudolph P. Byrd entitled Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality (Indiana University Press, 2001). Her most recent publication is a coauthored monograph (with Johnnetta Betsch Cole), Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities, which was published by Random House in 2003. Upcoming publications include an anthology of Audre Lorde’s writings (with Rudolph P. Byrd and Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Oxford University Press); a new edition of But Some of Us Are Brave (with Stanlie James and Frances Foster, Feminist Press); and a collection of writings on the race/gender debate during the 2008 U.S. presidential election (with Johnnetta Betsch Cole, SUNY Press). In 1983 she became founding editor of Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women which was devoted exclusively to the experiences of women of African descent and published from 1983-1996.
Guy-Sheftall is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, among them a National Kellogg Fellowship; a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for dissertations in Women’s Studies; and Spelman’s Presidential Faculty Award for outstanding scholarship. She has been involved with the national women’s studies movement since its inception and provided leadership for the establishment of the first women’s studies major at a historically Black college. Beyond the academy, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations which include the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Council for Research on Women, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, on whose boards she has served. In her role as Director of Spelman’s Women’s Center, she has also been involved with the development of student activism around misogynist images of Black women in hip hop as well as a broad range of social justice issues, including reproductive rights and violence against women. She teaches women’s studies courses, including feminist theory and global Black feminisms.