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Cole, Lewis Receive National Humanities Medal at the White House


Two prominent Black academicians--Drs. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Earl Lewis--were among 12 individuals who was awarded the National Humanities Medal at the White House earlier this month.   

“The National Humanities Medal recipients have enriched our world through writing that moves and inspires us; scholarship that enlarges our understanding of the past; and through their dedication to educating, informing, and giving voice to communities and histories often overlooked,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “I am proud to join President Biden in recognizing these distinguished leaders for their outstanding contributions to our nation’s cultural life.”  The National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history or literature, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.  Dr. Johnnetta Betsch ColeDr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

A scholar, anthropologist, and academic pacesetter, Cole has been lauded for her pioneering work about the ongoing contributions of Afro-Latin, Caribbean, and African communities and how these contributions have advanced American understanding of Black culture and the necessity and power of racial inclusion in the U.S. Known as an HBCU leader, Cole served as president of Spelman College and Benedict College—two HBCU colleges for women. She is the author of numerous books including Racism in American Public Life: A Call to Action

Lewis is a professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan and director of the Center for Social Solutions. From March 2013 to 2018, he served as president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. An author and esteemed social historian, he was the former president of the Organization of American Historians. Lewis chairs the Board of Regents at Concordia College, is a trustee of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and a director of 2U, Inc. and the Capital Group, American Funds. 

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