Duchess Harris was mentored by Dr. Mary Frances Berry at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in American History. In 1990, she was elected student body President, which made her the first Black woman to serve in this role at an Ivy League institution. She earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. While in graduate school, she worked for the late U.S. Senator Paul D. Wellstone. She also completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Minnesota Law School and the University of Georgia.
In 1998, Harris joined the faculty at Macalester College. She became the first Chair of the American Studies Department in 2003 and was granted tenure in 2004. In 2007 she decided that attending law school would allow her to expand the scope of her scholarship even further. In 2008, she was the only law student in the country chosen to be an Associate Editor for Litigation News, the American Bar Association Section’s quarterly flagship publication.
She earned a Juris Doctorate in January 2011 from Mitchell Hamline College of Law, and has an expertise in Civil Rights Law. In 2015, The Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers chose her to receive “The Profiles in Courage Award.” In 2019 she received the Presidential Award from the Association of Black Women in Higher Education.
She is the author of Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Trump. She tweets @harris_duchess.