David Jeffries Garrow (born May 11, 1953) is an American author and democratic socialist. He wrote the book Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1986), which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. He also wrote Liberty and Sexuality (1994), a history of the legal struggles over abortion and reproductive rights in the U.S. prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama (2017), and other works.
Life and career
Garrow was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Barbara (Fassett) and Walter Garrow. He graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University in 1975 before receiving his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1981.
Garrow writes frequently on the history of the United States Supreme Court and the history of the Civil Rights Movement, and regularly contributes articles on these subjects to non-academic publications including The New York Times, The Nation, The Financial Times, and The New Republic.
Garrow served as a senior adviser for Eyes on the Prize, the award-winning PBS television history of the Civil Rights Movement covering the years 1954–1965. He has taught at Duke University (Instructor of History; 1978–1979), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Assistant Professor of History; 1980–1984), the City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center (Associate and full Professor of History; 1984–1991), The Cooper Union (Visiting Distinguished Professor of History; 1992–1993), the College of William and Mary (James Pinckney Harrison Visiting Professor of History; 1994–1995), American University (Distinguished Historian in Residence; 1995–1996) and the Emory University School of Law (Presidential Distinguished Professor; 1997–2005). From 2005 to 2011, Garrow was a senior research fellow at Homerton College, Cambridge. From 2011 until 2018, he served as Professor of Law and History and John E. Murray Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
In 1987, Garrow was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
In 2019, after Garrow uncovered FBI files that indicated that Martin Luther King Jr. might have been involved in sexual violence, he stated that he was reassessing his view of him.
- Protest at Selma (Yale University Press, 1978)
- The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Norton, 1981)
- Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Morrow, 1986; HarperCollins paperback, 2004)
- We Shall Overcome (as editor, three volumes of an 18-volume set, Carlson Pub., 1989)
- Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (Macmillan, 1994; updated paperback edition, University of California Press, 1998)
- Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama (2017)