Timothy Patrick McCarthy is an award-winning scholar and educator, public servant, and social justice activist who has taught on Harvard’s faculty since 2005. He holds a joint appointment in the undergraduate honors program in History and Literature, Graduate School of Education, and John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he is Core Faculty at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. He is also the Stanley Paterson Professor of American History in the Boston Clemente Course, a college humanities course for low-income adults and co-recipient of the 2015 National Humanities Medal. Twice named one of Harvard Crimson’s “Professors of the Year,” he is the recipient of many awards for his commitment to students, including the 2019 Manuel C. Carballo Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Kennedy School’s highest teaching honor.
The adopted only son and grandson of public school teachers and faculty workers, Dr. McCarthy graduated with honors in History and Literature from Harvard and earned his Ph.D. in History from Columbia. A noted historian of politics and social movements, he has published five books with the New Press, including The Radical Reader, Prophets of Protest, and the forthcoming Stonewall’s Children: Living Queer History in an Age of Liberation, Loss, and Love. A frequent media commentator, his popular writings have appeared in Salon, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Pangyrus, and The Nation. In June 2019, he was guest editor for The Nation’s historic “Reclaiming Stonewall 50” forum.
Shaped by the anti-apartheid and AIDS activism of his college years, Dr. McCarthy has devoted his life to public service and social justice. Since 1990, he has been a Big Brother to Malcolm Green, now 33, whom he met while volunteering in the Cambridge public schools. As founding director of Harvard’s Alternative Spring Break Church Rebuilding Program, he spent fifteen years organizing hundreds of students to help rebuild black churches destroyed in racist arson attacks. A respected leader in the LGBTQ+ community, he was a founding member of Barack Obama’s National LGBT Leadership Council and gave expert testimony to the Pentagon Comprehensive Working Group on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He was a member of the first-ever LGBTQ delegation from the U.S. to Israel/Palestine, and serves on the board of Free the Slaves, a leading anti-slavery NGO. Dr. McCarthy hosts and directs The A.R.T. of Human Rights and Resistance Mic! at the Tony Award-winning American Repertory Theater, where he is a board member. For the last decade, he and his husband have been Resident Scholars at Quincy House, where they live with their joyful 8-year-old black lab.