ITHACA, N.Y. (WETM) – In honor of Black History Month, black educators in the United States and across the world continue to inspire and leave great impacts on future generations. One such educator is Cornell University professor of African American Literature Riché Richardson, who joined the Africana Studies and Research Center in 2008.

Riché’s research primarily focuses on questions related to the status of the U.S. South in shaping formations related to gender, race and sexuality in the U.S. She also focuses on how this status shapes categories such as the American and the African American. Richardson continues to develop her research on masculinity while also examining questions in relation to black femininity.

“I loved reading African American Literature growing up,” said Riché. “One thing I really value is that if one looks at it from it’s earliest development during the colonial era and from around the time the U.S. emerged as a republic, we can recognize that there are certain themes that come to the floor like literacy and freedom.”

Riché’s research also contributes to the field of black girlhood studies. Her most recent work, such as her new book, “Emancipation’s Daughters: Reimagining Black Femininity and the National Body,” and college courses, such as “ASRC 6903: Africana Studies Graduate Seminar,” continue to incorporate community engagement and outreach for current and future generations.

“My most recently published book,” Riché added, “allows me to examine a range of iconic black women leaders and the emergence of their public voices including Mary McLeod Bethune, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Condoleezza Rice, and even Beyonce’s impact in the popular realm.”

Riché adds that the themes of literacy and freedom in her work are useful because they challenge everyone regardless of who they are to build literacies and to do their best work.