Academic Prizes

Ruth J. Simmons Thesis Prize

This prize is awarded to the African American Studies senior whose senior thesis best exhibits excellence in research and writing within the field of African American Studies. Ruth J. Simmons, Prairie View A&M University President, President Emerita of Brown University, and an honorary member of the Department of African American Studies Advisory Council, generously endowed the prize.

Award Winners

  • Arianne Rowe '21 — "The Discourses of Blanqueamiento: A Multilateral Analysis of 19th Century Racial Ideologies in the Making of Modern Argentina" 
  • Nathan J. Poland ’20 — Under The Hood: The Racial Reasoning Undergirding Social Statistics In Criminal Legal Policy, 1995-2013,
  • Micah Richard Herskind ‘19​​​​​ ​— Decoding Decarceration: Race, Risk, and Reform in New Jersey, 1986-2017
  • Imani Noelle Ford '18 — Playing Time/(with) Swinging Doors: A Critique of Hope and Hopelessness in theTradition of Black Male Letters
  • Nicky Steidel '18 — “A Race Outcast from an Outcast Class” : Black Americans and the Experience and Representation of U.S. Communism in the Interwar Period, 1919-1941
  • Destiny Crockett '17 — “Sing the Song of Her Possibilities”: The Redefinition of the Black Girl During the Black Women’s Renaissance of the 1970’s and 1980’s
  • Aaron Robertson '17 — Igiaba Scego’s ‘Beyond Babylon’: A Translation from the Italian
  • Cameron Bell '16 — Georgia on My Mind: My Family and African American Experiences in Southwest Georgia, 1900-1970
  • Audrey Berdahl-Baldwin '16 — Protecting the Lawful, Combatting the Lawless: Racialized Police Violence and the 1967 Newark Uprisin
  • Shawon Jackson '15 — “Tough Love”: How One High-Performing Charter School Implicitly Criminalizes Youth of Color
  • Sarah Yerima '15 — Myopic Justice: A Brief Intellectual History of Colorblind Law, 1880-1896
  • Dixon Li '14 — From Mold to Molt: Aesthetics and the Matter of Race
  • Kellen Heniford '14 — Free Blacks, Freeborn Slaves, and Bondsmen in a Free State: African American Life and Black Political Action During New Jersey’s Emancipatory Period, c. 1820-1845
  • Molly Bagshaw '13 — The Modern Day Lynch Mob: Racism, Juries, and Capital Punishment in the United States
  • Osasumwen Benjamin '13 — Transnational Angst: Black Existentialism in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Narratives

The Badi Foster Distinguished Senior Prize in African American Studies

Awarded annually to the senior concentrator who has distinguished his or herself academically as well as beyond the classroom, reflecting a commitment to the intellectual, political, and artistic traditions in African  American Studies.

Award Winners

  • Kiara “KiKi” Gilbert ‘21


Outstanding Junior Paper in African American Studies Prize

This prize is awarded to the senior who submitted the most outstanding Junior Paper.

Award Winners

  • Lauren Johnson ‘21 — “Tied by Trauma: Navigating a Black Mother and Daughter’s Bond during Enslavement and Reconstruction" Advisor: Kinohi Nishikawa

AAS Spirit Award

This award is selected by AAS staff and is given to a senior for their positive contributions to the department. It recognizes students who informally assist the faculty, students, and staff.

Award Winners

  • Faith E. Iloka ‘21