The Columbia University board of trustees recently approved the creation of a new African American and African Diaspora Studies Department. ProfessorFarah Jasmine Griffin, the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies, has been appointed as the chair of the new department.
“Now, more than ever, we need to have both an understanding of that history, but we also need to understand the ways that history contributes to a sense of possibility and vision for the future,”said Dr. Griffin. “Even though we are later than many of our peers, the creation of this department at Columbia is right on time because our nation and our world need the kind of knowledge we produce.”
In 1993, long before there was a centralized department for African studies, Dr. Manning Marable established the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia. The institute has brought together scholars from a variety of disciplines and continues to bridge scholarship, teaching, and public life. Once the new department has been created, the IRAAS will continue to conduct research.
Now that the department has been approved, Columbia plans to hire new faculty who are experts in the field of African American and African diaspora studies and create a Ph.D. program to produce additional innovative scholarship.
Additionally, the school recognizes the significance of being located in Harlem, a center of Black cultural life in the United States, and plans to collaborate with the surrounding community.
“Departments and academic institutions don’t produce knowledge for the moment, they produce knowledge for the long term,” said Dr. Griffin, who also serves as director of the IRAAS. “Creating a new department is an investment in producing knowledge that is valuable for our country at any time, but especially at this moment, as it reminds us of a historical legacy as well as a vision of America that we need to engage more now than ever.”
According to jbhe.com, Dr. Tera W. Hunter, the Edwards Professor of History and professor of African American studies at Princeton University, has earned the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in women’s history and/or feminist theory as well as the Littleton-Griswold Prize in U.S. law and society from the American Historical Association. She will receive her honors at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago this coming January.
Professor Hunter’s book Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 2017) is what garnered her the above awards. Hunter’s great-great grandparents were enslaved, freed, and married during the Reconstruction era in the U.S. In the book,Hunter used her research of court records, legal documents, and personal diaries to examine the constraints the system of slavery placed on intimate relationships.
Earlier in 2018, Hunter also garnered the Mary Nickliss Prize in U.S. Women’s and/or Gender History from the Organization of American Historians for Bound in Wedlock.
Professor Hunter joined the faculty at Princeton in 2007 after teaching previously at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Dr. Hunter is a graduate of Duke University, where she majored in history, and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University.
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University has announced the eight winners of this year’s Windham-Campbell Prizes in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. Each winner will receive a $165,000 prize at an international literary festival at Yale in September.
Four of the eight winners of this year Windham-Campbell Prizes are Black. Three have ties to academic institutions in the United States.
Lorna Goodison, a winner of a poetry prize, is a professor emerita at the University of Michigan, where she served as the Lemuel A. Johnson Professor of English and African and Afro-American studies. She currently serves as poet laureate of the nation of Jamaica. Professor Goodison has published 13 collections of poetry including Supplying Salt and Light (McClelland & Stewart, 2013).
John Keene, a professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark is the recipient of a Windham-Campbell Prize in the fiction category. He is the author of the short story collection Counternarratives (New Directions, 2015) and the novel Annotations (New Directions, 1995). Professor Keene received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master of fine arts degree from New York University.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a native of Uganda who now lives in England, won a prize in the fiction category. Her debut novelKintu (Transit Books, 2014) tells the parallel stories of the fall of a cursed bloodline—the titular Kintu clan—and the rise of modern Uganda. Dr. Makumbi earned a Ph.D. in African literature from Lancaster University in England. She has taught creative writing at several universities in the United Kingdom.
Suzan-Lori Parks won an award in the drama category. She is a professor of creative writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Parks is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She is a former MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” winner. Professor Parks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her play “Topdog/Underdog.” In addition to her plays, Parks is the author of the novel Getting Mother’s Body(2003).
Nick Wade was at track practice late one afternoon last week when he found out. The 18-year-old checked his phone and learned that he had made it into the Ivy League. “One by one,” he said. “I found out I had gotten into my schools.”
Wade is a quadruplet, though, with three brothers on his high school track team who had also applied to Ivy schools. So about that time on Thursday, they were learning their fates, too. There was Aaron, who was in the locker room when he logged on. And Nigel, who was stretching when his brothers told him to check. Zach was going to wait until practice was over, but his brothers weren’t having it.
“It would have taken like 20 more minutes,” said Zach, whose siblings checked for him. “But they couldn’t wait that long.”That is how the Wade quadruplets, of Liberty Township, Ohio, learned that all four had been accepted at Harvard and Yale universities — offers that added to a pretty impressive pile of potential college destinations.
“We’re still in shock, honestly,” Aaron said this week. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet.”“I just felt blessed at that moment,” Nigel said. “It was an unreal feeling, I guess.”“Honestly, to have one child from a family be accepted to a school like this is amazing,” Zach said. “But for all four to be accepted — I just don’t, I don’t know how it happened.”
Besides Harvard and Yale, the Wade brothers have loads of options for the next four years. Nick got into Duke, Georgetown and Stanford. Aaron is in at Stanford, too. Nigel made the cut with Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt, and Zach with Cornell. That list does not cover all the schools that offered them admission. But you get the idea.
These seniors at Lakota East High School are in high demand.“The outcome has shocked us,” Aaron said. “We didn’t go into this thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to apply to all these schools and get into all of them.’ It wasn’t so much about the prestige or so much about the name as it was — it was important that we each find a school where we think that we’ll thrive and where we think that we’ll contribute.”
Alondra Nelson, a professor of sociology and dean of social science at Columbia University in New York City, will be the next president of the Social Science Research Council. Founded in 1923, the Social Science Research Council is an independent, international, nonprofit organization which supports research and development of social scientists. Professor Nelson will serve a five-year term as president of the organization, beginning September 1.
Professor Nelson is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of California at San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a doctoral degree in American studies from New York University.
After a swelling tide of protests, the president of Yale announced today that the university would change the name of a residential college commemorating John C. Calhoun, the 19th-century white supremacist statesman from South Carolina. The college will be renamed for Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who received a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale.
The decision was a stark reversal of the university’s decision last spring to maintain the name despite broad opposition. Though the president, Peter Salovey, said that he was still “concerned about erasing history,” he said that “these are exceptional circumstances.”
“I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” Mr. Salovey said on a conference call with reporters. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university.”
article via jbhe.com (additional reporting by Peggy Terry)
Recently, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 American winners of Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at Oxford University in England. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is considered among the highest honors that can be won by a U.S. college student.
The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. According to the will of Rhodes, applicants must have “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.”
This year, about 2,500 students applied to be Rhodes Scholars. More than 880 students were endorsed by 311 college or university for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship. Some 230 applicants were named finalists. Then, two Rhodes Scholars were selected from each of 16 districts across the United States. The Rhodes Trust pays all tuition and fees for scholarship winners to study at Oxford. A stipend for living and travel expenses is also provided.
In 1907 Alain LeRoy Locke, later a major philosopher and literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University. It would be more than 50 years later, in 1962, until another African American would be named a Rhodes Scholar. Other African Americans who have won Rhodes Scholarships include Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, and Franklin D. Raines, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and former CEO of Fannie Mae. In 1978 Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first African-American woman selected as a Rhodes Scholar.
The Rhodes Trust does not publicize the race or ethnicity of scholarship winners. But it appears that this year seven of the 32 Rhodes winners are African Americans. This is the most African American Rhodes Scholars in history.
Following are brief biographies of the African American winners:
Cameron D. Clarke is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is the fourth Howard student to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Clarke is majoring in community health education and biology. He is the news editor of the student newspaper at Howard and serves as an intern for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology at the U.S. House of Representatives. Clarke plans to study for a master’s degree in primary health care at Oxford.
Aryn A. Frazier is a senior at the University of Virginia, where she is double majoring in politics and African American and African studies. Frazier is president of the Black Student Alliance at the university. Frazier, a resident of Laurel, Maryland, plans to study for a master’s degree in comparative politics at Oxford.
Christian E. Nattiel from Madeira Beach, Florida, is a senior at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. At West Point, Nattiel is double-majoring in mathematical sciences and philosophy and is a member of the academy’s handball team. At Oxford, Nattiel will study for master’s degrees in comparative social policy and public policy.
Olivia A. Klevorn is a senior at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. A native of Chicago, Klevorn is majoring in anthropology. At Yale, Klevorn is the director of the Heritage Theatre Ensemble and president of a student-run poetry association. She will study for a Ph.D. in socio-legal studies at Oxford.
Aaron C. Robertson of Redford, Michigan, is a senior at Princeton University in New Jersey. He is majoring in Italian and focuses his research on Afro-Italian literature. At Princeton, he is the co-editor-in-chief of the Nassau Literary Review. Robertson plans to pursue a master’s degree in modern languages at Oxford.
Ahmed M. Ahmed is a biology major at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is a resident of Rochester, Minnesota. His research is focused on the development of new synthetic strategies for producing polymers. He is the son of immigrants from Somalia. Ahmed will study for a master’s degree in organic and medical chemistry at Oxford.
Caylin L. Moore is a member of the football team at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. A resident of Carson, California, Moore is majoring in economics at TCU. He was raised in poverty and was homeless. His father was convicted to a life sentence for murder. Moore is the founder of an organization of student athletes who encourage children from disadvantaged groups to attend college. He will study public policy as a Rhodes Scholar.
On Thursday, Yale University will honor its first black student by naming a divinity school classroom after him. James W.C. Pennington escaped from slavery to Maryland in 1837. At the time, it was illegal to educate African-Americans from other states, but Pennington was allowed to attend classes as long as he didn’t speak, use the library or earn a degree.
Divinity school graduate Lecia Allman led the push to honor Pennington, who later in life formed an organization to help former slaves receive their education.
Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling said of the decision to rename the classroom that it “recovers part of our past that has been neglected.”
Calhoun Residential College at Yale University has been in the news a great deal lately. The college was established in 1932 in honor of John C. Calhoun, who graduated from Yale University in 1804. He went on to become vice president of the United States, serving under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. A native of South Carolina, Calhoun was a major defender of the institution of slavery.
Now the university has announced that the dining hall at Calhoun Residential College will be renamed to honor Roosevelt L. Thompson. A resident of Calhoun College, Thompson was killed in an automobile accident during his senior year at Yale, after he had been selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University.
A documentary film on Roosevelt Thompson was produced by PBS. A trailer for that documentary can be viewed below:
As Yale University continues to debate the legacy of John C. Calhoun, an alumnus and leading 19th–century politician and slaveholder for whom one of its residential colleges is named, the university said on Tuesday that it would not press charges in the case of a black dining hall worker who smashed a stained-glass panel depicting slaves carrying cotton.