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About Donald F. Tibbs

Dr. Donald F. Tibbs joined the faculty of the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Fall 2008 where he teaches Criminal Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Critical Race Theory, and Hip Hop and the Law. Previously he was an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Institute for Civil Rights and Justice at the Southern University Law Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was also adjunct faculty at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dr. Tibbs received his Jurist Doctorate (J.D) in 1996 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Following law school he worked as a civil rights attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1998, he returned to academics to pursue his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from Arizona State University in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry where he emphasized race and law in legal history and popular culture. At Arizona State University he was a Graduate College Academic Support Fellow (GCASF), a Preparing Future Faculty Fellow (PFF), and named the Arizona State University 2001 Sheila S. Skipper Outstanding Graduate Student. His doctoral dissertation entitled “Black Power and Prison Power: The Prisoner Union Movement in North Carolina, 1967-1979,” is a narrative legal history tracing the roots of black power behind prison walls to the establishment of the North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union. The subject of his dissertation is memorialized in his forthcoming book, “From Black Power to Prison Power: The Making of Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners Labor Union” (forthcoming: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Following his doctoral studies, Dr. Tibbs served twice as an academic fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School. In 2003 he was a fellow at the J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History where he presented research on the Black Power Movement in legal history. From January 2004 - August 2005, he served as the William H. Hastie Law Teaching Fellow where he completed his Master’s of Laws (LL.M.) degree. While a Hastie Fellow, Dr. Tibbs conducted an ethnographical study of the Inmate Disciplinary Process at the Fox Lake Prison – a medium security prison located in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. Titled, “Inmate Discipline in Wisconsin: How Law “Works” Behind Prison Walls,” his study reconstructed how non-lawyers understand and make use of the intersection of law, power, and resistance during the process of disciplining prison inmates, a process Dr. Tibbs refers to as “punishing those already being punished.”

His list of academic and professional achievements is notable. He was the 2007-2008 Harry S. Golden Civil Rights Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, a recipient of the 2011 Career Development Grant at Drexel University, and recipient of the 2011 Dean Jennifer L. Rosato Excellence in the Classroom Award at the Earle Mack School of Law. Further, in Spring 2012 he will also host the first 10-week lecture series on Hip Hop and the Law ever taught at an American law school, where scholars will travel from around the world to discuss Hip Hop and the Law with law students.
Dr. Tibbs’ research interests include Black Power Legal History; African American Intellectual History; Comparative Black Nationalism; Critical Race Theory; and Race and Punishment. He is a published scholar with articles appearing in the Iowa Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice, the Southern University Journal of Race, Gender, and Poverty, the Seattle Journal of Justice, the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, the African American National Biography, Icons of Black America Encyclopedia, and a forthcoming book Hip Hop and the Law.


Present Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Curriculum Vitae



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Honors and Awards

  • William H. Hastie Fellow in Law Teaching
  • Willard Hurst Fellow in Legal History
  • Harry S. Golden Visiting Civil Rights Scholar
  • Sheila S. Skipper Outstanding Graduate Student, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (2001)


  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law

Contact Information

Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law
3320 Market Street, Room 274
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 571-4773