Black History Month

Black History Month: 10 Fellows You Should Know

February 15, 2024

February is Black History Month; a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans and reflect on the ongoing pursuit of freedom and racial equity. Here are 10 Fellows from the Citizens & Scholars network who are broadening perspectives by highlightingand examining the experiences of Black Americans and are civic leaders in their community. These visionary Fellows are making history themselves and strengthening our democracy through their leadership, teaching, scholarship, and service.  

Ronald A. Crutcher

President Emeritus and University Professor, University of Richmond
WW Fellow 1969

Dr. Crutcher, a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician, is the President Emeritus of both the University of Richmond and Wheaton College in Massachusetts and was the first African American Provost at Miami University of Ohio. In 2021, he was named a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Dr. Crutcher advocates for the value of liberal education, the democratic purposes of higher education, diversity and inclusion, and free expression on college campuses. He served in an advisory role to Citizens & Scholars’ College Presidents for Civic Preparedness initiative.  


Saidiya Hartman

University Professor, Columbia University
Newcombe Fellow 1990

Dr. Hartman, literary scholar and cultural historian, was appointed to the rank of University Professor – Columbia’s highest academic honor – in 2020. The President of Columbia wrote: “Professor Hartman’s […] immersive and unflinching portraits of Black life have forever altered the ways in which we think and speak about enslavement and its invidious legacy in this country.” She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2019. Dr. Hartman’s most recent book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (W. W. Norton & Company) won the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award.


Zoë Jenkins

Student Advocate
Civic Spring Fellow 2020

Zoë Jenkins is a 20-year-old University of Virginia student who is reimagining education and empathy. She serves as a senior advisor at the Kentucky Student Voice Team, a youth-led organization she joined in 8th grade after noticing disparities in her school’s climate and student involvement in decision-making. She is also the founder of DICCE, an organization that creates accessible programming and training on diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and equity for Generation Z. Notably, Jenkins was a speaker at the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit.


Lerone A. Martin

Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor, Stanford University
Nancy Weiss Malkiel Fellow 2017

Dr. Martin is an accomplished historian whose research focuses on twentieth-century religious traditions in the United States and the intersection of race and politics with religion. In addition to his research and teaching at Stanford, Dr. Martin also teaches high schoolers through the Stanford College Prep Program and utilizes his classroom to model civil dialogue. As the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford, he is working to make more of Dr. King’s writings and teachings accessible.

“I hope that my classroom functions as a laboratory of democracy. Students debate in my class. They argue but must remain civil and try to find ways where their perspectives, which they thought maybe were completely opposite, might agree.”

Dr. Lerone A. Martin
Dr. Lerone A. Martin

Imani Perry

Henry A. Morss, Jr. and Elisabeth W. Morss Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Mellon Fellow 1994

Dr. Perry holds a joint appointment in Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and in African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and co-founder of Harvard’s Black Teacher Archive. Dr. Perry “draws from law, literature, history, philosophy, and popular culture to explore how Black Americans—and often Black women in particular—have resisted, survived, and nonetheless thrived.” Her most recent book, South to America, won the 2022 National Book Award for Nonfiction. She is a 2023 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.


Chris Suggs

Councilmember, Kinston City, NC
Civic Spring Fellow 2020

At 23 years old, Chris Suggs is the youngest elected official in North Carolina, spearheading projects related to affordable housing, food insecurity, and community development. Outside of politics, he is a community organizer and entrepreneur who leads Youth Impact Strategies, a consulting firm that specializes in meaningfully engaging young people in leadership, programming, and communication. Suggs is also the founder of Kinston Teens, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to youth empowerment and community development.

“We’ve shown that young people can and will make a difference on the issues that are important to us. Whether that’s responding to hurricanes and natural disasters, getting young people registered to vote, showing up, filling up our City Council and School Board meetings. It truly encompasses the mission of Kinston Teens and of me being a City Councilmember, of us getting more young people involved with local government.”

Chris Suggs
Chris Suggs

Salamishah Tillet

Salamishah Tillet on stage

Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies and Creative Writing, Rutgers University, Newark
Mellon Fellow 1999, Career Enhancement Fellow 2010

Dr. Tillet is a scholar, writer, and activist whose work lives at the intersection of the arts, education, social justice, and community service. She is a contributing critic at large for The New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2022 for columns examining race and Black perspectives as the arts and entertainment world responded to the Black Lives Matter moment with new works. She is the director of Express Newark, a center for socially engaged art and design where people co-create, collaborate, and make art for social change.


Ben Vinson III

President, Howard University
Career Enhancement Fellow 2001

Dr. Vinson was appointed as the 18th president of Howard University in May 2023. He is a scholar of the African diaspora and is considered a foremost historian of Latin America. Dr. Vinson previously served as the Provost and Executive Vice President of Case Western Reserve University. In Fall 2023, he joined Citizens & Scholars’ College Presidents for Civic Preparedness, a consortium of diverse college presidents united in ensuring students are civically well-informed, productively engaged, and committed to democracy.

“We know ours is an American story; a quintessential saga, an American journey whose essence fuels and inspires an entire diaspora. And we know we are proud because on the foundation, that is our iron legacy, we build the strength for better tomorrows.”

Dr. Ben Vinson III
Dr. Ben Vinson III during his Presidential Inauguration Address at Howard University

Brandon Washington

Technology Education Teacher, Hamilton West High School
WW Teaching Fellow 2014

Brandon Washington is a high school educator, adjunct professor at LaSalle University, and an instructor for the Uncommon Individual Foundation. He is dedicated to community outreach, serving as a board member of Philadelphia’s South of South Neighborhood Association and founder of The STREAM Engine, which provides resources and educational opportunities for local youth. Washington recently launched a fundraiser to build a community space and after-school program to help young people in his community gather and learn about STEM topics.


Michael R. Winston

Provost Emeritus, Howard University
WW Fellow 1962

Dr. Winston is a distinguished historian and former faculty member and academic administrator at Howard University. He is also a Trustee Emeritus of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (then the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation). Dr. Winston is the founding director of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as the “largest and most comprehensive repositories of documents, books, and ephemera for the Black experience.”

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