UIC scholar honored for work serving the ‘public good’

Barbara Ransby

Barbara Ransby
Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Barbara Ransby, a University of Illinois at Chicago historian, writer and activist, is the recipient of the American Studies Association’s 2018 Angela Y. Davis Prize for Public Scholarship, which recognizes scholars who have applied or used their scholarship for the betterment of society.

The selective award acknowledges high-level work that “explicitly aims to educate the lay public, influence policies, or in other ways seeks to address inequalities in imaginative, practical, and applicable forms.”

Ransby, who has faculty appointments in African American studies, gender and women’s studies, and history, will be honored Nov. 9 at an awards ceremony during the association’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

In an announcement, the award committee noted that “while we were all familiar with Dr. Ransby’s important contributions, it was both impressive and inspiring to read such glowing testimonials from so many colleagues. What emerges is a compelling picture of a brilliant and courageous career devoted to social justice.”

Ransby, a distinguished professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is a widely published scholar, frequent speaker at international events, and popular media contributor on civil rights, social justice and African American history.

In her latest book, “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century,” Ransby provides an overview of the movement’s origins and growth, explores challenges and opportunities for its future, profiles some of its young leaders and examines its impact on efforts to end police violence and bring about racial justice, gender justice and systemic change.

Her other books include an award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, titled “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision,” and “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.”

Last year she was named among the top 25 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.

At UIC, Ransby also serves as director of the Social Justice Initiative, a campus program that aims to build on socially conscious research and interests across different disciplines, improve connections with community partners, and serve students interested in social justice work.

In 2016, Ransby was elected to a two-year term as president of the National Women’s Studies Association, which supports the production and dissemination of knowledge about women and gender through teaching, learning, research and service in academic and other settings.

She serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals and is the editor-in-chief of SOULS, a critical journal of black politics, culture and society.

Founded in 1951, the American Studies Association is the oldest and largest academic association dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. culture and history in a global context.