Honors & Prizes

Honors Work in Africana Studies

An honors project, undertaken with the permission of the department chair and mentoring faculty, is an option for students who wish to conduct advanced research and study. A student wishing to do honors must complete an “Honors Dossier” during the Winter Study term and Spring semester of their Senior year.

  • The dossier is the mechanism through which students earn Honors in Africana Studies at Williams. It is designed to have students think of their coursework in Africana Studies as a continuum that built upon the foundations they explored in the introductory level course, expanded upon in their elective coursework, and honed in their senior seminars.

    The Honors Dossier is comprised of three linked essays or projects. Students may begin the project with two essays/projects written for Africana Studies courses and, under their advisor’s guidance, complete additional research, incorporate instructor feedback, and substantially re-write and expand these two projects. The third essay or project must be a new work, crafted and designed specifically for the Honors project.

    Students must also write a substantive introduction that explains the theme (theoretical, geographic, chronological etc.) that connects the three essays/projects. The introduction should address the significance of the theme to the interdisciplinary study of the peoples and cultures of the African diaspora. It should also explain the logic of the three papers and how they work together. In some circumstances, a student may want to include a record of a performance, piece of visual art, and/or multimedia or digital component in the Dossier. In this case, a written analysis and explanation should accompany that piece. Dossiers will be due in mid-April (after Spring Break). The total Honors Dossier should consist of no less than 45 pages of written work.

    Students should submit a proposal for an Honors Dossier in the fall semester of their Senior year, no later than mid-October. They may draw on papers and projects written in Africana courses during any semester including the fall semester of their Senior Year. Students may petition to include a paper or project completed in a course outside of the Africana curriculum (e.g. during Study Away). Africana faculty will meet late in the fall semester to approve or decline Honors Dossier proposals. Students whose proposals are approved will be assigned an advisor and should register for W31-AFR 494 in the winter study/spring of the Senior Year.

    At the Honors presentation night in the spring, each Honors student will prepare and give an oral defense of their dossier. During the defense, students will present the key points their overarching project and field questions from select faculty and student critics, all of whom will have read the dossier.

    An honors project should demonstrate creativity, depth, and intellectual rigor. Honors candidates are encouraged to pursue non-traditional projects, such as presentations in the performing arts, visual arts, or creative writing, as well as more conventional research projects.

  • Overview:

    Completing Honors in Africana Studies provides you with the opportunity to explore an area of interest to you. The dossier model aims to provide you with the maximum flexibility for pursuing your interests, while assuring the rigorous standards of excellence required to receive Honors at the completion of your project. Your final project should demonstrate creativity, depth, and intellectual rigor. We encourage you to think of your time and coursework in Africana Studies as a continuum that has built upon the foundations you explored in the introductory level course, expanded upon in your elective coursework, and honed in your senior seminars.


    September—Begin thinking about theme(s) that connect your ideas, and what sort of new essay/project you would like to create; speak with potential advisors
    — Learn more about the process during an open meeting held on Wednesday, September 26, 2018; submit your Honors Dossier proposal

    October—Dossier proposals are due Friday, October 12 by 4:00 PM. Submit them electronically to the department administrative assistant Nancy Mitton.

    November—After your proposal is approved, you should meet with your advisor to discuss your research plan for the Winter Study term.

    January—You must provide one revised paper/project (or its equivalent) to your advisor by the end of Winter Study. At that time, it will be determined if you will continue on the honors trajectory.

    Ongoing, February to early March—Your advisor will set additional deadlines (weekly, biweekly, etc.) for you to submit your work and your reader(s) may request additional work from you. Note that ideally, you will have the second essay revision completed before you depart for spring break. In addition, Africana Studies may arrange relevant writing workshops.

    Mid-March to Mid-April—drafting and finalizing the third dossier component

    Mid-late April (post-spring break)—A complete draft of your dossier will be due to your advisor and your readers at least one week prior to your oral presentation and defense.

    End of April—oral defense (open format, 15-20 minutes presentation, 15 minutes Q&A). Presentations must explicitly identify how the three components of the dossier are connected.

    Early May—You will have the opportunity to revise your final draft in light of feedback from your oral defense.

    Early May—submission of a full electronic copy to Africana Studies for consideration of prized and Program Honors.

    Mid-May—submission of the final, electronic copy It is your responsibility to be familiar with and to meet the College set deadlines for submissions of honors theses, and their other requirements, which are available here.


    • Just because your proposal has been accepted into the Honors program does not mean that you will receive Honors. This is not automatic and on-going communication with your advisor and your readers is critical.
    • Your winter study and semester grades are determined by your advisor(s). Whether or not to award honors is determined by the Core Faculty of the Africana Studies Department, your advisor(s), and at least one additional reader.
    • Time will go much more quickly than you anticipate. Figure out the deadlines and work backwards, making sure that you leave time for your advisor and readers to read and for you to revise.
    • Missing deadlines may result in you not receiving Honors for your work.


  • 2017

    Q. Aunrika Tucker-Shabazz, "On Achieving a Realist-Utopian Framework Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Fledgling and Tallevast, Florida" [Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Advisor]

    Olivier Joseph, "Poesía en Rumbo: A Cuento de Many Tierras—Tracing Diasporic Voices of Black Radicalism & Afrolatinidad" [Rashida K. Braggs and VaNatta S. Ford, Advisors]


    Sharldline Desire, "People Get Ready: Centering Black Voices in the Affirmation of Black Lives" [Advisor, James Manigault-Bryant]

    Ahmad Greene-Hayes, "Black Pentecostal Touch: Queerantagonism and (Un)Holy Hands" [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant]

    Logan Lawson, "Food Freedom through Black Agrarian Love: Liberating Black Bodies from Food Oppression and the Global Corporate Food Regime via Collective Eco-memory" [Advisor, Neil Roberts]

    Olivia Polk, "Faggots, Femmes, and Other Tales from Beyond the Black Studies Archive: A critical Study of Un-Incorporated Difference" [Advisors, James Manigault-Bryant and Margaux Cowden]

    Cinnamon Williams, "Black Women's Blueprints: Legacies of the Erotic and the Scripting of Southern, Black Pleasure" [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant]


    Sevonna M. Brown, "Wom(b)anism, Maternal Survival, and Intersections of Black Women's Liberation" [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant]

    Amber Ellis, "Being Black in Appalachia: African Americans in the Mountain South" [Advisor, Candis Watts Smith]

    Veroneque Ignace, "Healing through dance: an autobiographical journey of a Black Haitian woman at Williams College" [Advisors, Shanti Singham and Sarah Burton]

    Tirhakah Love, "The Unsung: Tales of Hip-Hop in the Neoliberal Era" [Advisor, James Manigault-Bryant]

    Medina Mody-Fitzmaurice, "Moments of Race Experiences by Asian American Adoptees" [Advisors, Neil Roberts and Reginold Royston]

  • 2014

    Kenny Jean, “Reflections of a Haitian American: Politics, Testimony and Cultural Agency” [Advisor, Shanti Singham]

    Jallicia Jolly, “Dare to Survive: Gendered and Cultural Survival Strategies  of the Africana Diaspora” [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant]


    Jade Carter, “Moving 4Ward: Gentrification & Renaissance in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward” [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant]

    Nneka Dennie, “Black Patriarchy, Black Women, and Black Progress: An Analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper” [Advisor, Neil Roberts]

    Ivory Goudy, “(Re)Evaluating the 13th Amendment’s Duly Convicted Clause: A Study of its Historical Legacy and Contemporary Significance to African American Communities” [Advisor, James Manigault-Bryant]

    Nykeah Parham, “Let’s Make a Mulatto: A Guide to Swirling” [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant]

    Don Polite, Jr., “Arturo A. Schomburg: Redefined Revolutionary Afro-Puerto-Rican Black Historian” [Advisor, Leslie Brown]


    Noluthando Bridget Ngcobo, "Your Silence Will Not Protect You: (Re) presenting Resilience – The Black South African Lesbian; Activism and the Individual” [Advisor, Rhon Manigault-Bryant] 

  • 2011

    Jacquelin Denise Magby, “Swagger Like Us:  Youth, Urban Brands, and Class Consciousness in Chicago" [Advisor, James Manigault-Bryant]


    Tony Coleman, “Reconciliatory Multiculturalism: A Theory of Black Inclusion” [Advisor, Neil Roberts]

    Claire Schwartz, “The Radical Politics of Breast Cancer Subjectivities, or Something like a Red Flag for Audre Lorde, Pat Parker, and June Jordan” [Advisor, Vince Schleitwiler]


    Anisha Warner, “Reflections on Migratory Subjectivity: Caribbean Women Writers and a Plural Conception of Identity” [Advisor, Stéphane Robolin]


Four prizes are awarded annually: one for academic excellence (the Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies); one for excellence in the Arts (the Ernest Brown Africana Arts Prize); one for leadership (the Sterling A. Brown Prize); and one for outstanding work completed by a first or second year student in Africana Studies (The Shanti Marie Singham Prize).


    In appreciation of Ernest Brown’s steadfast and inspired service to Africana Studies as a Professor, as Director of the Zambezi Marimba Band and as Co-Director of Kusika, this cash prize is given to a senior whose work has shown unusual brilliance, imagination, and industry in the arts, especially the performing arts. Established in the Spring of 2012.


    Initially established in 1974 by three members of the Class of 1974 and carried on by the then Afro-American Studies Program, this prize honors Sterling A. Brown, Class of 1922, retired Professor of English at Howard University. Awarded to the graduating senior whose undergraduate experience reflects outstanding leadership and involvement in campus affairs, academic achievement, and communication of new ideas, with preference to be given to members of the Black Student Union.

  • GAIUS C. BOLIN,  1889, PRIZE

    A cash prize established in memory of the first black graduate of Williams and prominent Poughkeepsie lawyer, for the best scholarly work submitted by a Williams’ senior in the field of Africana Studies.


    A cash prize established in honor of Shanti M. Singham, a stalwart member of our faculty, for her longstanding support of Africana studies at Williams. The prize is awarded to the best paper or project completed by a first or second year student in an Africana Studies course. Established in 2018.


  • 2017-2018

    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Anna V. Pomper and Keiana R. West
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Valerie I. Oyakhilome
    The Shanti Marie Singham Award — Shane E. Beard and Tricia A. De Souza
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Elyza Sharai Dottin


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Q. Aunrika Tucker-Shabazz
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Selena Castro
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Olivier Joseph


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Logan Lawson
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Ahmad Greene-Hayes
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Naomi Fields


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Sevonna Brown
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Sevonna Brown
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Veroneque Ignace 

  • 2013-2014

    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Jallicia Jolly
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Tre'dez Colbert
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Demaris Edwards and Kenny Jean


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Ivory Goudy
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Nneka Dennie
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Nykeah Parham


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Bridget Ngcobo
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Daquan Mickens and Brian Thomas
    The Ernest Brown Africana Arts Award — Jonayah (Jo) Jackson

  • 2010-2011

    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Jacquelyn Magby
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Courtney 'Coco' Smith


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Tony Coleman and Claire Schwartz
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Janay Clyde


    The Gaius C. Bolin 1889 Prize in Africana Studies — Annette N.K. Quarcoopome and Anisha Nakisha Warner
    The Sterling A. Brown 1922 Citizenship Award — Shayla S. Williams