Black Experience

Queen Latifah Wins Award from Harvard for Contributions to Black History, Culture

Entertainer Queen Latifah is one of seven recipients of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University this year for her contributions to Black history and culture.

Latifah, poet and educator Elizabeth Alexander, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch III, poet Rita Dove, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television Sheila Johnson, artist Kerry James Marshall and Robert Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners all will receive the medal on Oct. 22.

The award is named after Du Bois, a scholar, writer, editor and civil rights pioneer who became the first black student to earn a doctorate from Harvard in 1895, according to the Associated Press.

The medal, first awarded in 2000, will be presented by Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, according to CBS News. The W.E.B. Du Bois Medal honors those who have made “significant contributions” to African and African-American history and culture and is “Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American studies,” according to the Hutchins Center.

“It is awarded to individuals in the United States and across the globe in recognition of their contributions to African and African American culture and the life of the mind,” the website reads. “Recipients have included scholars, artists, writers, journalists, philanthropists, and public servants whose work has bolstered the field of African and African American studies.”

This is not the first award Latifah has earned in recent years. A little over a year ago, Latifah received an honorary doctorate degree from Rutgers University in her home state of New Jersey.

Past winners of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal include Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali and Steven Spielberg. Just last year, Harvard honored athlete-activist Colin Kaepernick and comedian Dave Chappelle.

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