Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Laverne Cox to Receive Harvard’s Highest Honor for African and African-American Studies | New

Seven people, including basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actress Laverne Cox, will next month receive the WEB Du Bois Medal, Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African-American studies.

The prizes will be awarded by Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, which announced the winners last Wednesday.

Five others will receive the honor at an awards ceremony next month: award-winning author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, arts patron and philanthropist Agnes Gund, Citigroup executive Raymond J. McGuire ’79, former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78, and pioneering artist Betye Saar. The ceremony will take place on October 6 at the Sanders Theater.

Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer and the only six-time most-rated player in league history. Since retiring from court, Abdul-Jabbar has been a prolific cultural critic, writing several books on African-American history and serving as America’s cultural ambassador under President Barack Obama. In 2016, former President Obama awarded Abdul-Jabbar the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Cox, the first transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, is a prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist. Since rising to fame for her performance on Netflix’s hit show “Orange is the New Black,” Cox has been nominated for an Emmy four of the past eight years.

Hutchins Center Director Henry Louis Gates Jr. commended the honorees for “their unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of representation and creating opportunities for advancement and participation for people who have too often been excluded from mainstream society.” great promise of our time”.

This year’s list of honorees is the first since 2019. The Hutchins Center has not awarded the medal during the pandemic.

The Du Bois Medal, first awarded in 2000, honors its namesake, the prominent African-American scholar and civil rights activist. Du Bois graduated from Harvard College in 1890 and became the first African American to earn a doctorate. from Harvard in 1895.

Past recipients include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, former U.S. Congressman John R. Lewis, author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey and the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

—Editor Cara J. Chang can be reached at cara.chang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @CaraChang20.

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