Dr. Fortner received a BA in political science and African American studies from Emory University and a PhD in government and social policy from Harvard University. At Harvard, he was a doctoral fellow in the multidisciplinary program in inequality and social policy and an affiliate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. In fall 2005, he was a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics. Currently, he is an associate editor of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (JREP), an official section journal of the American Political Science Association (APSA), and serves on APSA’s Ethics Committee.
His work studies the intersection of American political development and political philosophy—particularly in the areas of race, ethnicity, and class. He is the author of Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment (Harvard University Press, 2015), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and winner of the New York Academy of History’s Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History. Along with Amy Bridges, he edited a volume on city politics, Urban Citizenship and American Democracy (SUNY Press, 2016). His scholarly articles have appeared in Studies in American Political Development, the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of Policy History, and Urban Affairs Review.
He has also been published in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Dissent magazine, and his research has been covered in major media outlets, such as the Atlantic, The New York Times, the New Yorker, New York Magazine, the Daily Beast, Time, WNYC and NPR. He has been awarded fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Political Studies, the American Political Science Association, the New York State Archives, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and the Mortar Board Honor Society. He has also received several teaching awards.