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Theresa Runstedtler is a scholar of African American history whose research examines Black popular culture, with a particular focus on the intersection of race, masculinity, labor, and sport. Her most recent book, Black Ball: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, and the Generation That Saved the Soul of the NBA (Bold Type Books, 2023), examines how African American players transformed the professional hoops game, both on and off the court. She is the author of Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line (UC Press, 2012), an award-winning biography that traces the first African American world heavyweight champion's legacy as a Black sporting hero and anticolonial icon in places as far-flung as Sydney, London, Cape Town, Manila, Paris, Havana, and Mexico City. Dr. Runstedtler has also published scholarly articles in the Radical History Review, the Journal of World History, American Studies, the Journal of American Ethnic History, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, the Journal of Women's History, and the Journal of African American History, and book chapters in City/Game: Basketball in New York, Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance Beyond Harlem, and In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century. She has written for Time.com and the LA Review of Books, and shared her expertise on the History Channel, Al Jazeera America, Vox.com, NPR, and international radio outlets including the BBC and CBC.


Dr. Runstedtler is Associate Professor in the Departments of History and Critical Race, Gender & Culture Studies (CRGC) at American University (AU). She was the founding Chair of CRGC, from 2015-2018. In 2018-2019, she was a Visiting Faculty Fellow in the Inclusion Imperative Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Dresher Center for the Humanities. And she won an NEH Public Scholar fellowship to work on Black Ball in 2019-2020.

Dr. Runstedtler offers courses on African American history and race and pop culture at AU. She has taught at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and at the University of Pennsylvania. Before returning to school to earn a PhD in History and African American studies at Yale University, Dr. Runstedtler started out as a professional dancer/actress (most notably with the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak) and then worked in public relations for a national sports network in Toronto, Canada.


In her spare time, she is a Peloton fitness fanatic and runner. Originally from Canada, she lives in Baltimore with her husband and son.