UIC scholar receives lifetime achievement award

Barbara Ransby
Barbara Ransby
Photo: Jenny Fontaine

University of Illinois Chicago historian Barbara Ransby has been named a recipient of the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ransby, a professor of Black studies, history, and gender and women’s studies; a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences distinguished professor, and an award-winning author, is joined by Angela Davis and Boaventura de Sousa Santos as the recipients to be honored in 2022 with the annual award.

Ransby was selected for the award “because of the historical and political importance of her writings, her tireless work as an institution-builder and activist, and the integrity she brings to every project in which she is involved,” according to the awards committee, which consists of all prior award recipients, an appointed senior scholar and two appointed junior scholars.  

Ransby is the first endowed John D. MacArthur Chair at UIC and only the second in the history of endowed MacArthur chairs in the University of Illinois System. Her books include the multiple award-winning biography “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision,” which was called “one of the most influential books of the last 20 years” by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2018; “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century;” and “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.” The latter publication earned her the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize for the best book in African American women’s history from the Association of Black Women Historians.

In 2020, she was elected to the Society of American Historians and named to the Freedom Scholars, a select group of progressive academics who are at the “forefront of movements for economic and social justice.” Other previous honors include the receiving the Women and Media Award from the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press and the American Studies Association’s Angela Y. Davis Prize for public scholarship, as well as being named among the top 25 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine in 2017.

Ransby also directs the Social Justice Initiative at UIC, which promotes connections between academics and community organizers working on social justice.

“Professor Barbara Ransby is one of our leading womanist thinkers and leaders. One who allies thought with action. She is a powerfully stimulating inspiration. Congratulations to Professor Ransby, and we thank her for showing us the way,” said Hanétha Vété-Congolo, president of the association and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Bowdoin College.

The award will be formally conferred during a special ceremony at the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s annual conference in October.

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