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Class of 2021 MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Fellows Announced And Nearly Half Of The Honorees Are Black

Class of 2021 MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Fellows Announced And Nearly Half Of The Honorees Are Black

Black excellence is thriving!

The Class of 2021 MacArthur "Genius Grant" fellows have been announced, and nearly half of the honorees are Black, NPR reports. 

2019 was the first year that many began to notice the prevalence of Black trailblazers winning the prestigious award. The MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the "genius grant," is a $625,000 no strings attached award given to "extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential." Recipients are nominated by an anonymous group of invitees and chosen based on three criteria; "exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments and potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work."

Recently, the Class of 2021 has been announced, and the honorees are majority Black, with 12 of the 25 recipients identifying as Black. The pioneers have made a name for themselves, and while their work differs, they are each doing their part to create a new, more inclusive, and thriving world for all. 

"As we emerge from the shadows of the past two years, this class of 25 Fellows helps us reimagine what's possible. They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries. Once again, we have the opportunity for exultation as we recognize the potential to create objects of beauty and awe, advance our understanding of society, and foment change to improve the human condition," said Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur Fellows' Managing Director. 

Below we've included a roundup of all of the Black 2021 MacArthur Fellows

Hanif Abdurraqib, 38, Music Critic, Essayist, and Poet

"Forging a distinctive style of cultural and artistic criticism through the lens of popular music and autobiography."

Reginald Dwayne Betts, 40, Poet and Lawyer

"Promoting the humanity and rights of individuals who are or have been incarcerated."

Jordan Casteel, 32, Painter

"Capturing everyday encounters with people of color in portraits that invite reciprocal recognition of our shared humanity."

Ibrahim Cissé, 38, Biological Physicist

"Developing microscopy tools to investigate the subcellular processes underlying genetic regulation and misfunction."

Nicole Fleetwood, 48, Art Historian and Curator

"Elucidating the cultural and aesthetic significance of visual art created by incarcerated people."

Ibram X. Kendi, 39, American Historian and Writer

"Advancing conversations around anti-Black racism and possibilities for repair in a variety of initiatives and platforms."

Daniel Lind-Ramos, 68, Sculptor and Painter

"Transforming everyday objects into assemblages that speak to the global connections inherent in Afro-Caribbean and diaspora legacies."

Desmond Meade, 54, Civil Rights Activist

"Working to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated citizens and remove barriers to their full participation in civic life."

Safiya Noble, 51, Internet Studies and Digital Media Scholar

"Highlighting the ways digital technologies and internet architectures magnify racism, sexism, and harmful stereotypes."

Jacqueline Stewart, 51, Film Scholar, Archivist, and Curator

"Ensuring that the contributions of overlooked Black filmmakers and communities of spectators have a place in the public imagination."

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, 49, Historian and Writer

"Analyzing the political and economic forces underlying racial inequality and the role of social movements in transforming society."

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, 70, Choreographer and Dance Entrepreneur

"Using the power of dance and artistic expression to elevate the voices of Black women and promote civic engagement."

To learn more about their work and check out the complete list of fellows, click here

Congratulations to all the Fellows!

Photos Courtesy of MacArthur Foundation