Scholar of race and gender honored with Gittler Prize

Patricia Hill Collins ’69, PhD’84, is first alumna to win social justice prize

Patricia Hill Collins, an eminent scholar and Brandeis alumna who has dedicated her career to understanding the intersections of race, gender and class, will receive the fifth annual Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize for lasting and outstanding scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic and religious relations.

Collins ’69, PhD’84, 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. 

Collins will present a lecture entitled "With My Mind Set on Freedom: Black Feminism, Intersectionality and Social Justice" and receive the $25,000 Oct. 29 in Rapaporte Treasure Hall from 2 to 4 p.m.

“It is difficult to overstate Professor Collins’ contribution to our understanding of the intersection of race, gender and justice in this country,” notes Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence

“It is especially meaningful to award the Gittler Prize to a Brandeis alumna, who traces her intellectual roots back to this institution and one of its pioneering faculty members.” 

Patricia Hill Collins

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

Collins received her master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University and directed the African American Center at Tufts University before coming back to Brandeis to earn her PhD in sociology.

In 1982, she joined the University of Cincinnati faculty where she taught for more than 20 years. 

Her first book, “Black Feminist Thought,” was published in 1990 and won numerous awards, including the Jessie Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association and the C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Her other works include the widely used textbook “Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology,” “Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism” and “Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice.” She has also authored more than 50 articles and essays, and dozens of film and book reviews. 

Collins has furthered society’s understanding of the experiences of black women and oppressed communities. In “Fighting Words,” Collins explored how black women are often marginalized within the black community and she tackled representations of black women in rap culture in her 2006 work “From Black Power to Hip Hop.”

The prize is a legacy of Joseph B. Gittler, also a sociologist, who taught at Cardozo Law School and several other leading universities including Duke University, George Mason University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. It also honors professor Gittler’s mother, Toby Gittler. 

Past winners include Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam, Emory Professor Emerita Frances Smith Foster, Stanford historian Clayborne Carson, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The George Washington University Professor of Islam, and Princeton University Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah. 

Categories: Alumni, Humanities and Social Sciences

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