Department of Africana Studies

Commencement 2021

Africana Studies celebrates the accomplishments of an extraordinary class who persevered through extraordinary circumstances.

The Class of 2021

Departmental Awards

Ethel Robinson Award, Samantha Scott

The Ethel Robinson Award is conferred upon Samantha Scott for her Capstone Project, "An Afrosurrealist Jazz Study of Black Alchemy: The Four Major Elements." Scott's short film utilizes stark visuals shot in sand dunes to explore jazz and surrealism through the work of Omi Jones, Audrey Lorde, Amiri Baraka, Mary Overlie, Arthur Jafa, and others. It is well-produced and deeply evocative. The accompanying notes make excellent connections to a certain liminal, queer, improvisatory discourse, which is an integral component of jazz and the radical black tradition. This award is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.


Brother Ah Award, Halle Bryant

The Brother Ah Award is conferred upon Halle Bryant for her essay, "Finding The New Human Project in the Belly." Using Sylvia Wynter’s project of the Human and connecting it to the themes and arguments in the abolition movement, Bryant's essay showed a very good grasp of Wynter's main arguments and made credible and original connections with the contemporary abolition movement. Her work was elegantly written and well-argued.


Charles H. Nichols Award, Kunovenu Haimbodi

The Charles H. Nichols Award is conferred upon Kunovenu Haimbodi. From its beginnings as an award honoring Rhode Island residents working to advance the scholarly study of the diaspora, the Nichols Award has evolved in recent years to honor an Africana Studies concentrator who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in the department and the University. Kunovenu has shown dedicated leadership as a Teaching Assistant for AFRI 1941, a class organized around the process of archiving the office of the late Professor Anani Dzidzienyo. The award is named after the internationally renowned scholar of African American and American literature and first chair of the Brown University Program in Afro-American Studies.  

Ida B. Wells Award, Youma Traore


The Ida B. Wells Award is named after the noted journalist and political activist who with W.E.B. Du Bois and others founded the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People in 1909. The Wells Award recognizes the graduating senior who best combines the highest standards of scholarship with a deep dedication and commitment to furthering the cause of justice and equality for all people. This year, it goes to Youma Traore in recognition of her long standing work with the Petey Greene Program, as well as her leadership in the Anani Dzidzienyo Archival Project.


GHB Legacy Award, Ruby Gerber

The George Houston Bass Legacy Award honors a student's outstanding contributions to institution building in the specific area of playwriting. This award is conferred by Rites and Reason Theatre.


Anna Julia Cooper Award, Mea Chiasson

Anna Julia Cooper Award, Halle Bryant

The Anna Julia Cooper Award is named after the pioneering African American scholar and committed adult education advocate who in 1925 at the age of 65 received her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne. The Cooper Award recognizes the graduating senior(s) with the best academic record in the concentration.