Natasha Lightfoot: An historian who stays close to her roots

Natasha Lightfoot.

Natasha Lightfoot was born on June 21, 1978 to Jocelyn and the late William Lightfoot, both born in Antigua and Barbuda.

While growing up in the Bronx, Lightfoot’s family always maintained strong connections to Antigua and Barbuda, through political discussions, as well as regular travel to the island.

Lightfoot attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx where she was an honor student, excelling in academics and participating in many extracurricular activities, including the National Honor Society, the Flag Corps and the Gospel Choir.

For her bachelor’s degree, Lightfoot attended Yale University. As a student she was particularly drawn to U.S. and African-American History courses.

She was also a dancer who performed and choreographed in African, jazz and hip-hop dance for the troupe Rhythmic Blue.

Lightfoot graduated with distinction in the history major and was elected to Phi Alpha Theta, a national History Honor society in 1999. Afterward, she spent a year working at Goldman Sachs.

On the advice of her undergraduate mentor who recognized her strengths as a researcher and writer, she decided to leave Goldman to pursue her doctorate in history in the fall of 2000 at New York University.

While at NYU, Lightfoot focused her studies on the Caribbean and its place within the broader African Diaspora, and wrote a dissertation that traced the transition from slavery to freedom in Antigua and Barbuda.

Her research explored the various ways that freed people in the decades after emancipation fought against British colonial domination to make freedom mean more than just low-waged labor.

She earned her MA in 2002 and her Ph.D in 2007 from NYU, and was immediately hired following her successful defense of her doctoral thesis as an assistant professor.


Antigua and Barbuda


New York University, Ph.D;


Assistant Professor in Columbia University’s Department of History


“I admire my parents most of all for always encouraging me to succeed and to never forget my Antiguan roots.”

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