Patricia Hill Collins

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Early Life

Patricia Hill Collins was born in Philadelphia on May 1st 1948. Patricia is an only child whose parents were both involved in the war efforts of World War II. In her early years, Patricia was discriminated against at school and in other public environments for being one of the few African American women whose parents were part of the working class. .Patricia was a quiet but hard-working, student in Philadelphia.

Beginning in adolescence, I was increasingly the "first," "one of the few," or the "only" African American and/or woman and/or working class person in my schools, communities, and work settings. I saw nothing wrong with being who I was, but apparently many others did. My world grew larger, but I felt I was growing smaller. I tried to disappear into myself in order to deflect the painful, daily assaults designed to teach me that being an African American, working-class woman made me lesser than those who were not. And as I felt smaller, I become quieter and eventually was virtually silenced." - Patricia Hill Collins

After public school, she attended Brandies University. Moving to Boston helped Patricia to overcome the discrimination she had faced in the past, and she was able to begin shaping her own sociological perspective from being in a new environment. Patricia received her Bachelor of Arts with a major in sociology, and soon after continued her education at Harvard University, earning her Master of Arts in Teaching. in 1970.

Personal Life and Education

Throughout her teaching career, Patricia took part in development of curriculum and education in schools; particularily ones that faced economic and social problems. Patricia moved to Tufts University, as she was a Director in the African American Department, and met her husband Roger Collins in 1977. Two years after, they had baby Valerie. Soon after, Patricia went back to Brandies University and got her doctorate in sociology. In 1982, the family moved and Patricia worked at the School of Education at the University of Cincinnati, in the department of African American Studies where she studied Women's Studies and sociology. In 1996, her dedication payed off as she became the Charles Phelps Taft Distinguished Professor of Sociology. Following her path as a professor, she held a career at the University of Maryland as the Wilson Elkins Professor of Sociology, and from then on she has been working with graduate students in race, feminist scholarship, and sociological theory. Aside from remaining in North America, Patricia has travelled to many places where she was able to gain knowledge regarding how gender, race and many other factors vary in different cultures and places.


Patricia Hill Collins is widely recognized for her well known article: "Learning from the Outsider Within," which was published in the academic journal Social Problems in 1986. The article represents her experiences being an African American woman during her endeavours in education and throughout life. Collins work has widely revolved around the problems that regard African Americans, as well as the misinterpretations having to do with various issues. Aside from this article, Patricia wrote one of many books titled Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge. Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, which was given numerous awards along with a ten year anniversary sequel to the book. Patricia is known for many other books some include, Fighting Words: Black Women and the Struggle for Justice, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism, Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology which was co-written with Margaret L. Anderson. Patricia has been honoured for many of her accomplishments, her work focuses mainly on gender and race, and their linkages to repression.

Patricia's Awards

  • Faculty of the Year Award at the University of Cincinnati
  • C. Wright Mills Award for the first edition of Black Feminist Thought
  • Award for Outstanding Service to African-American Students at the University of Cincinnati
  • Named The Charles Phelps Taft Professor of Sociology by the University of Cincinnati, making her the first-ever African-American, and only the second *woman, to hold this position
  • American Sociological Association Distinguished Scholarly Book Award for her book Black Sexual Politics
  • Emeritus Status from University of Maryland, College Park
  • Morris Rosenberg Award for Student Mentorship from the University of Maryland
  • Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize her contributions to racial and ethnic relations from Brandeis University
  • Distinguished University Professor from University of Maryland

Major Contributions to Sociology

Along with publishing many great books and articles, as well as giving strong speeches, Patricia has contributed to the way society views certain topics regarding African Americans. She has changed several students views on African American women. When Patricia was a teacher, she challenged her students to view their uneducated assumptions under a sociological perspective. With this being said, she changed the way people thought about communities and "Black Families". Patricia also transformed the way people think when it comes to power and classes; making society aware that people in a lower class have a different perspective compared to those in a higher class. Overall, Patricia was a mindful sociologist and opened up many people's eyes from studying race, sexuality, cultures and much more. The outcomes from her studies as well as knowledge, impact the way sociologists think to this day.


Higginbotham, Elizabeth (September 2008). "A New Perspective with Patricia Hill Collins". Retrieved from

Patricia Hill Collins: Distinguished University Professor". University of Maryland Department of Sociology

BookTV (2009-07-21), BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education

Collins, Patricia Hill, and Simmons College (2009). Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities. Boston: Beacon Press.

Cole, Nicki (October 7, 2016). "Patricia Hill Collins, Part 2". About Education. Retrieved October 7, 2016.

Footnotes. American Sociological Association. Retrieved 9 November 2015.