Carol M. Swain, born in Bedford, Virginia, was one of twelve children. Although she never attended high school, she earned a high school equivalency diploma and her first academic degree from Virginia Western Community College. She received a B.A. from Roanoke College and M.A. from Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in 2000 was awarded a M.L.S from Yale Law School. She is a foundation member of the Nu of Virginia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Professor Swain, formerly a tenured faculty member at Princeton University, is currently Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University. She is a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University. In 2003, Dr. Swain founded the Veritas Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting justice and reconciliation among people of different races, ethnicities, faith traditions, and nations.
Swain is the author of Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993, 1995), named one of seven outstanding academic books of 1994 by Library Choice Journal. She also received the 1994 Woodrow Wilson prize for the best book published in the U. S. on government, politics, or international affairs. In 1995 she won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best Scholarly on Congress and was," the co-winner of the V.O Key Award for the best book published on Southern politics. Black Faces was cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Johnson v. DeGrandy (1994) and by Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor in Georgia V. Ashcroft (2003).
Dr. Swain’s most recent books include The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), nominated by Cambridge University Press for the Pulitzer Prize Competition, and its edited companion Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). She is also editor of Race Versus Class: The New Affirmative Action Debate (University Press of America, 1996), an anthology of student essays.
Dr. Swain has published articles in both popular and academic journals and anthologies, including USA Today Magazine, op-eds in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Chronicle of Higher Education and has lectured widely across the United States and in Southeast Asia. Her media appearances include BBC Radio, CNN Talk Back, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, ABC News, Fox News Live, PBS Ben Wattenburg’s Think Tank, NPR Here & Now, NPR The Connection, NPR Morning Edition, and Daybreak USA.
Her academic honors include visiting fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, California, the Russell Sage Institute in New York City, and the James Madison Program at Princeton University.