AMHERST, Mass – The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is being awarded this year’s American Historical Association’s Equity Award recognizing success in training and placing nearly 100 percent of its minority historians in academia.
The award was announced in the November issue of Perspectives on History, and will be presented on Jan. 4 at the AHA annual meeting in New Orleans, prior to the group’s president’s address by William Cronon of the University of Wisconsin.
“The association is extremely pleased to confer this honor on so deserving a recipient,” AHA executive director James Grossman said in making the announcement.
Promoting diversity and serving underrepresented communities has been a central tenet of the Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies since it was created at UMass Amherst in 1970 as the one of the first degree-granting and tenure-conferring departments of what was then popularly known as black studies.
The department helped establish the study of the African-American experience and the Afro-diaspora as a serious endeavor in higher education in the United States and remains a leader in African studies research and teaching, and in service to black communities, says graduate program director Manisha Sinha. Sinha also notes that the department was also a forerunner nationally in granting a Ph.D. in Afro-American studies.
“The AHA Equity award to the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies recognizes the extraordinary achievement of our doctoral program in training first-rate scholars and their placement in universities and colleges across the country,” Sinha said. “Most of them have gone on to successful academic careers, publishing books and winning prestigious research fellowships. We are proud of our students and this recognition of their accomplishments.”