On October 6, 2022, award-winning Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will receive the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University. Chimamanda, who previously served as a Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellow and was the 2018 Harvard College Class Day Speaker, is making another trip back to Harvard.
The awards will be handed down by Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. Six others will receive the honour at an award ceremony next month: Actress and activist Laverne Cox, former professional basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, arts patron, and philanthropist Agnes Gund, Citigroup executive Raymond J. McGuire ’79, former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78, and pioneering artist Betye Saar.
The list of awardees for this year is the first since 2019. During the epidemic, the Hutchins Center did not present the prize.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., the director of the Hutchins Center, praised the award recipients for “their unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of representation and creating opportunities for advancement and participation for people who have been too often shut out from the great promise of our times” in a statement.
Chimamanda’s awards and recognitions so far
She was nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002 for her short story “You in America,” and the 2002 BBC World Service Short Piece Awards named her story “That Harmattan Morning” a joint winner. She was awarded the 2002–2003 David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2003. (PEN Center Award).
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She was one of the authors included in The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” Fiction Issue in 2010. She was selected as one of the 39 authors under 40 in the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club initiative Africa39, which honoured Port Harcourt as the 2014 UNESCO World Book Capital, in April 2014. One of the greatest honours for intellectuals in the United States, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, revealed in April 2017 that Adichie had been elected as one of 228 new members to be admitted on October 7, 2017, into its 237th class.
Chimamanda has received sixteen honorary doctorates from some of the top universities in the world, including Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Edinburgh, Duke University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, and the Catholic University of Louvain. She received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, and an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2016. She received honorary doctorate degrees in humanities from Haverford College and the University of Edinburgh in 2017. She was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa by Amherst College in 2018. 2019 saw her earn an honorary doctor honoris causa degree from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Ngozi Adichie was awarded an honorary degree by Yale University on May 20. She obtained her sixteenth honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Louvain on April 28, 2022.
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About the W.E.B Du Bois medal
The Du Bois Medal was first awarded in 2000 and is given in recognition of its namesake, a renowned African American academic and civil rights advocate. In 1895, Du Bois became the first African American to get a Ph.D. from Harvard after graduating from Harvard College in 1890.
Former U.S. Congressman, John R. Lewis, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, talk show presenter, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, professional boxer Muhammad Ali, directors Steven Spielberg, and Ava Duvernay, renowned writer Chinua Achebe, and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick are just a few of the recipients from the past.