"To never be an instrument of one's own oppression"
Ravi K. Perry, a native of Toledo, Ohio, holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Brown University, each in political science. Ravi is Professor of political science at Howard University (HU) where he served as department chair, 2019-2022. Ravi is also the Immediate Past President of the Association for Ethnic Studies, where he also served as Associate Editor of the journal Ethnic Studies Review. Ravi is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, and three books: Black Mayors, White Majorities; 21st Century Urban Race Politics; and The Little Rock Crisis: What Desegregation Politics Says About Us. Ravi is currently writing Black Queer Electoral Politics: Introducing America’s Openly LGBTQ Black Politicians.
Ravi (Sanskrit for 'sun') was raised in a home of educators – a middle class family in Toledo, Ohio, where his interests in political representation and participation, community service, and faith was influenced by his parents’ example at a young age. Throughout his career, Ravi has sought to continue the marriage of his interests in scholarship and leadership. His career path began as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan where his mentor refused to write a letter for Ravi to go to law school, noting the few Black political scientists that exist globally. In the fall of 2005, Ravi enrolled in Brown University’s Ph.D. program in political science and earned his Master’s degree in 2006 and a Ph.D. in 2009 at the age of 26. At Brown, he led the reinvigoration of the Nabrit Black Graduate Student Association as their president.
Ravi’s first job after graduate school was at Clark University in Worcester (“Woosta”), Massachusetts. While at Clark where he was one of 4 Black faculty on campus, Ravi led the effort to re-establish the Worcester unit of the NAACP and was elected President (the first-ever openly-gay President of color in the history of the national organization). While President, Ravi created and led the city’s first-ever march and rally for the International Day of Human Rights.
In 2012, Ravi moved to Starkville, MS to work at Mississippi State University (MSU). At MSU, Ravi desired to experience Black rural communities and the opportunity to work in one of the few political science departments in the country with a Black chair. He led the effort in African American Studies to host the first Freedom Summer Conference, bringing together international scholars and former Freedom Riders to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. Ravi also led a “Die-In,” one of the earliest marches and rallies in support of Black Lives Matter (and the first in the SEC). Ravi was a key participant in the City of Starkville’s effort to add LGBTQ non-discrimination protections for municipal workers. He was also elected a member of the Board of Directors at the ACLU of Mississippi.
Ravi moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2015 to work at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where he introduced community service-learning in two new undergraduate courses in Political Science, African American Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies: Black Queer Politics and Black Political Activism. Ravi served on the City of Richmond’s Human Rights Commission and was a member of the Board of Diversity Richmond, where he co-created and led the organization’s first-ever programing for Black LGBTQ History Month, featuring a month-long self-portrait photo exhibit at the Black History Museum of Virginia, the first known collaboration between an LGBTQ organization and a statewide Black History Museum in the country. In 2017, at the age of 36, Ravi was elected Chair of the Department of Political Science, becoming one of the youngest chairs of a ‘R-1’ department in the United States.
Since arriving at HU, Ravi’s tenure as chair included remarkable growth in undergraduate majors, curriculum and external development, and faculty hiring. He was also appointed a Member of the Building Democratic Citizens in Higher Education Working Group with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and is a member of the Editorial Board of the American Political Science Review.
Named one of 20 under 40 "Shapers of the Future" worldwide by Encyclopedia Britannica in social activism and politics in 2021, in 2018, Ravi was recognized as a “Emerging Scholar” in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. In 2015, Ravi was named one of 50 “Hero Citizens” by the Andrew Goodman Foundation, an international civil rights organization committed to voting rights. In 2014, Ravi was awarded the Clarence Stone Young Scholar Award from the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.
In 2020, Ravi was an at-large candidate for the state board of education, earning nearly 30,000 votes. In DC, Ravi serves as Vice-Chair of DC Vote, is a member of the Washington DC Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., is a member at Metropolitan AME Church, enjoys playing tennis and volunteering, is finishing an MDiv degree, and rescued a cane corso named Byson. As a child born premature to parents of the silent generation, Ravi is a fierce advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS like him, and people, such as his mother and Aunts, living with dementia.