This has been a difficult year. Although faculty and staff adjusted admirably to online instruction, over the course of the academic term our students evidenced the wear and tear of these Covid-days. No matter. We made it. And given the circumstances, AY 2020-2021 has been a remarkable year.
We graduated a class of 15 concentrators, and they were joined by twenty-one graduating seniors who completed a certificate in African American Studies. Like last year, we had five Ph.D. students who earned graduate certificates in the field. We are overjoyed by what is fast becoming a robust graduate certificate program. This year we awarded the Ruth J. Simmons prize to Arianne Rowe for her thesis, “The Discourses of Blanqueamiento: A Multilateral Analysis of 19thCentury Racial Ideologies in the Making of Modern Argentina.” Her advisor, Reena Goldthree, described the project as “an unusually strong senior thesis” and recommended “that she think about publication.” We also decided to award the Simmons Prize retroactively to Nathan Poland of the class of 2020 for his thesis. Kiara Gilbert, recipient of the Marshall scholarship, was also recognized with our Badi Foster Distinguished Senior Prize.
One thousand and fifty-one students enrolled in our classes, representing a 4.37% increase. As we return to campus, our expectation is that this number will rise (although our leave patterns, as expected, continue to impact our numbers). Next year, the department will have ten senior concentrators. Six sophomores have also declared.
The faculty in African American Studies continue to distinguish themselves around the country. Imani Perry and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor received Guggenheim fellowships. Ruha Benjamin and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor were promoted to the rank of Full Professor and both were named among the first cohort of Freedom Scholars.
We are all anxious to return to campus, especially given our anticipated move to Morrison Hall in August. We are sad to leave Stanhope Hall, but the reality is that the majority of AAS faculty have been located elsewhere since our founding. Next year will mark an important shift. The majority of the faculty will be in one building. This will allow us to deepen the ethos that has defined our unit.
This has been a difficult year. I am, and I know my colleagues are, exhausted. We all need a break and a bit of time to replenish. Despite the difficulty, I have witnessed the extraordinary dedication of my colleagues to our students and the tireless effort of our staff to ensure that we fulfill our mission. Again, we made it. Now we must prepare ourselves to return to campus—to our new home, Morrison Hall—and continue to write, to teach, and to be a transformative presence on campus and a national resource for the country.
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
Department Chair, African American Studies