Past Recipients

Tressie McMillan Cottom speaks at a podium.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, recipient of the 2023 Gittler Prize

Photo Credit: Dan Holmes

Tressie McMillan Cottom is a professor with the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill, a New York Times columnist, and 2020 MacArthur Fellow. McMillan Cottom is known for rearranging your brain in the span of a carefully turned phrase. Her breadth is phenomenal — it moves from the racial hierarchy of beauty standards and the class codes of dressing for work to the predation of for-profit colleges and the stain of racial capitalism on our plural democracy — all while reimagining the essay form for the 21st century as she goes.

Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Dr. Anderson is the author of "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide" (Bloomsbury 2016). This book won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and is also a New York Times Bestseller, a New York Times Editor's Pick, and listed on the Zora List of 100 Best Books by Black Woman Authors since 1850.

Howard C. Stevenson is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist and researcher of racial stress and trauma. Stevenson is the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, where he serves as executive director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative and directs Forward Promise, a national philanthropic office that promotes a culture of health for boys and young men of color, to help them heal from the trauma of historical and present-day dehumanization, discrimination and colonization.

John Paul Lederach is Professor Emeritus of International Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Senior Fellow at Humanity United. Lederach works extensively as a practitioner in conciliation processes, active in Latin America, Africa and Southeast and Central Asia.

Lederach is widely known for the development of culturally appropriate approaches to conflict transformation and the design and implementation of integrative and strategic approaches to peacebuilding. He served as the director of the Peace Accord Matrix research initiative at the Kroc Institute and is active as a member of the Advisory Council for the recently formed Truth Commission in Colombia.

Tatum was president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia from 2002 until her retirement in 2015, when she was named president emeritus. Her critically acclaimed landmark book from 1997, "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race," has been re-released in a special 20th anniversary version, with significant changes that reflect demographic shifts in America today.

Tatum is also the author of "Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community" published in 1987 and "Can We Talk About Race?  And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation" in 2007. She has conducted workshops and spoken on issues of racial identity across the country.

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics 2016-18, is a leading authority in the area of civil rights, black feminist legal theory and race, racism and the law. 

She has worked extensively on a variety of issues pertaining to gender and race in the domestic arena including violence against women, structural racial inequality and affirmative action. A specialist on race and gender equality, she has facilitated workshops for human rights activists in Brazil and in India, and for constitutional court judges in South Africa. Her groundbreaking work on "intersectionality" has traveled globally and was influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the South African Constitution.

Martha Minow is dean of Harvard Law School and one of the world's leading figures in bringing legal ideas and scholarship to bear on issues of identity, race and equality, including innovative approaches to reconciliation among divided peoples.

Minow's numerous scholarly works and books include "Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence," a groundbreaking book offering pathways of hope for divided societies, and her 2010 volume "In Brown's Wake: Legacies of America's Constitutional Landmark." She worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to establish Imagine Co-existence, a program that promotes peace in post-conflict societies. She has also served on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and partnered with the Department of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology to increase curriculum access for students with disabilities.

A world-renowned Catholic Dominican priest from Peru, now the John Cardinal O’Hara Endowed Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Gustavo Gutiérrez is a founder of liberation theology, which combines theology with social activism. His book, "A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation," is widely considered one of the most important works in 20th-century theology, and plays a critical role in informing the ethical values of faith-based organizations working in developing countries in Latin America and beyond.

Patricia Hill Collins, ’69, PhD ’84, is an eminent scholar and Brandeis alumna who has dedicated her career to understanding the intersections of race, gender and class. Collins is the author of seven books, including the seminal "Black Feminist Thought," and is currently a Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She served as the 100th president of the American Sociological Association and was the first African American woman to hold that office.

A Philadelphia native, Collins came to Brandeis University in 1965 where she was deeply influenced by Pauli Murray, a civil rights leader and the university's first professor of African American and women's studies.

Doug McAdam, a scholar who has made the study of social movements and other forms of "contentious politics" the focus of his research. A professor of sociology and director of urban studies at Stanford University, McAdam is the author of two books on the civil rights movement including "Freedom Summer," which was a follow-up study of the lives of those who applied to take part in the 1964 Mississippi Summer project, 20 years later.

More recently, he has sought to assess the ongoing civic effect of participation in Teach for America, the relationship between neighborhood religious and civic life in Chicago, and to explain county level variation in the burning of churches in the United States between 1996 and 2001. His findings often have been unexpected.

Carson, the Ronnie Lott Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford, has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King Jr. and the movements King inspired. He was selected in 1985 by the late Coretta Scott King to edit and publish her late husband’s papers. In 2005, the King Papers Project became part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford, and Carson became the institute’s founding director.

Carson's extensive writings reflect not only his research about King but also his undergraduate civil rights and antiwar activism, which led him to appreciate the importance of grassroots political activity as well as visionary leadership in the African American freedom struggle.

Emory Professor Emerita Frances Smith Foster has published more than a dozen books and numerous articles, many of which pioneered research and challenged existing ideas. She is also a fellow of the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis.

Her specialties include African American family life before the 20th century, women's literature, early African American print culture and the literature of slavery. Among her influential books are "Witnessing Slavery: The Development of the Ante-Bellum Slave Narrative" and "Written by Herself: Literary Production by African American Women Writers, 1746-1892."

Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr is an internationally recognized authority on Islamic science and spirituality, and University Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University. The only Muslim to be included in the Library of Living Philosophers, Nasr is today the greatest living exponent of the philosophia perrenis — the understanding that the fundamental nature of reality is always available and thus knowable by individuals, and that it manifests itself in the religions and wisdom traditions of all cultures and civilizations.

Appiah is a Ghanaian philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist, whose body of work questions and challenges most accepted theories about race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, nationhood and multiculturalism.

In 1992, Appiah won the Herskovitz Prize for African Studies in English for the autobiographical "In My Father's House," which placed Appiah at the forefront of scholars dealing with contemporary African studies and identity. Among his later books are "Colour Conscious" (with Amy Guttman), "The Ethics of Identity" (2005) and "Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers" (2006).