Eight honorees announced as W.E.B. Du Bois Medalists

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. opens the 2022 Du Bois Medal awards ceremony at Sanders Theatre. File photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

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The Hutchins Center for African & African American Research announced its newest cohort of W.E.B. Du Bois Medal honorees on Sept. 26. The eight Hutchins Center Honors recipients will be honored for “contributions to African and African American culture and the life of the mind.”

“The Hutchins Center recognizes the eight 2023 Du Bois Medalists as creators, thinkers, and teachers whose success has been measured not only by their own remarkable achievements but also by their pathbreaking commitments to expanding rights, access, and expression to people who have traditionally been held back and held down by any number of institutions in the U.S. and across the world,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center.

He continued: “We salute them as leaders and admire them for their unyielding commitment to speaking the truth about the world we inhabit and to making it better.”

This year’s honorees include civil rights advocate and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw; former Harvard Women’s Basketball Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith; director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden; musician, songwriter, producer and actor Ice T; filmmaker, writer, producer, and professor Spike Lee; artist and activist John Legend; Vice President of Colombia Francia Elena Márquez Mina; and African entrepreneur and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Medal is the highest honor given by Harvard in the field of African and African American studies. Honorees have included scholars, writers, philanthropists, journalists, artists, and public servants. Previous recipients include actress, producer, and LGBT advocate Laverne Cox (2022), artist Kerry James Marshall (2019), filmmaker Ava DuVernay (2017), and civil rights activist and former Congressman John Lewis (2014).

The Hutchins Center launched in 2013 thanks to a generous gift of more than $15 million from the Hutchins Family Foundation, which was endowed by the chairman of the National Advisory Board of the Hutchins Center and of North Island Glenn H. Hutchins ’77, J.D. ’83, M.B.A. ’83. The center includes the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Center; the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art; the Afro-Latin American Research Institute; the Hiphop Archive & Research Institute; the History Design Studio; the Project on Race & Cumulative Adversity; the Project on Race & Gender in Science & Medicine; the Image of the Black Archive & Library; the Jazz Research Initiative; and two publications, the Du Bois Review and Transition.

This year’s ceremony will take place on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. in Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Free tickets are available at the Harvard Box Office on Oct. 5 at noon.