Charles Hamilton Houston Prize

The Charles Hamilton Houston prize is awarded to a senior who best personifies a commitment to realizing humane ideals, much like Charles Houston (1915), who devoted his life to the struggle of equal protection under the law for African-Americans.  Candidates must write an essay (10 pages or less) addressing: "In what area of social involvement do you feel that you can best effect humanitarian ideals?," and submit a list of activities/work experiences illustrating commitments to this ideal.  Please submit your essay electronically to by 3:00 p.m. on April 12, 2024 if you wish to be considered for this prize.

Edward Jones Prize

Each year the Black Studies department awards the Edward Jones Prize in honor of the first black alumnus of Amherst College.  Competition for the prize is open to any graduating senior who has written an honors thesis that addresses a present or future issue of concern to black people in Africa and the Diaspora.  Please submit your thesis electronically to by 3:00 p.m. on April 17, 2024 if you wish to be considered for this prize.

Becoming Abolitionists: A Conversation with Derecka Purnell

Becoming Abolitionists: A Conversation With Derecka Purnell

Derecka Purnell is a human rights lawyer, writer and author of Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom. She works to end police and prison violence by providing legal assistance, research and training in community-based organizations through an abolitionist framework.

Gerald Penny Commemoration

On September 12, 2023, Amherst College held a Ceremony of Remembrance Honoring Gerald Penny '77 who drowned on September 12, 1973 in Pratt Pool during a swim test for new students.

A Fireside Chat with Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, Stefan Bradley, and Eddie Cole, Chaired by Hilary Moss

November 3, 2022

This conversation was The Chair's Plenary for the History of Education Society Annual Meeting for 2022 and took place at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland on Thursday November 3, 2022.

Music and Poetry of the African Diaspora

On Monday, April 3, 2023, Poet/ Professor Kate Rushin, Professor Carolyn Cooper, and Professor Wayne Marshall led a panel of discussion on music and poetry of the African Diaspora.

Congratulations Professor Abiodun

Four Professors

Congratulations Professor Rowland Abiodun

Congratulations to Prof. Rowland Abiodun, Professor of the History of Art and Black Studies, on becoming the Principal Consultant for the John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture & History

The John Randle Centre

Wade in the Water

Girl walking into the water
Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water

A book from one of our majors - Nyani Nkrumah '92 Set in 1980s Mississippi, my novel, Wade in the Water, examines the generational legacy of racism in two different families, one black and one white, within the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a mistreated and precocious eleven-year-old girl, Ella, and Katherine St. James, a mysterious white graduate research student from Princeton. Katherine’s arrival in the black side of the still racially divided town draws suspicion, but the two embark on a friendship that drowns out the outside world- until it doesn’t, and the relationship grows more fraught as Ella unwittingly pushes against Katherine’s carefully constructed boundaries that guard secrets and a complicated past.

Amazon Editor's Pick

Congratulations on your Fellowships

Elizabeth Herbin-Triant received a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship for 2022–2023 to support her book project titled "Lords of the Lash and Loom: Abolitionists, Anti-Abolitionists, and the Business of Manufacturing Slave-Grown Cotton." 

Jallicia Jolly has been awarded a Ford Foundation 2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship that will support the completion of her first book manuscript, which is titled "Ill Erotics: Black Caribbean Women and Self-Making in Times of HIV/AIDS," which is under contract with University of California Press.

Olufemi Vaughan has been named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow. His project is titled "“Letters, Kinship, and Social Mobility in Nigeria,1926–1994.” The project is based on about three thousand family letters from Femi's late father’s library that focus on real-life family stories in colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. Earlier this month, the board of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a group of 180 exceptional individuals. The fellows were appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. 

Black Military Workers and Scientific Racism

picture of book cover for
Book cover for :Contagions of Empire: Scientific Racism, Sexuality, and Black Military Workers Abroad, 1898-1948"

Black Military Workers and Scientific Racism


During World Wars I and II, African American troops were subjected to experimental medical treatments based on racial stereotypes. Professor Khary Oronde Polk, of the Black Studies and SWAGS departments, discussed his book, Contagions of Empire, which examines the bias behind these treatments and the physical and mental toll they exacted on their recipients. The National World War I Museum and Memorial hosted this discussion and provided the video.


Featured Article

An illustration of two Black women against an orange, green and blue rainbow

The BREHA Collective

The Black Feminist Reproductive Justice, Equity & HIV/AIDS Activism (BREHA) Collective is a new interdisciplinary lab that foregrounds the experiences, labor, and political visions of Afro-Diasporic girls, women, and gender-diverse people in our shared and divergent struggles against reproductive injustice.

Read more