AAUW Celebrates Black History Month 2023

A Month of Celebration, Reflection, and Looking to the Future

We’re proud to spotlight the achievements of extraordinary AAUW Black Fellowships and Grants alumnae this Black History Month. We’re also raising awareness about ongoing racial injustices and our work to create equal opportunity for all.

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, American Fellowship, 2004-05

Dr. Sealey-Ruiz’s research focuses on racial literacy in teacher education, Black girl literacies, and Black and Latinx male high school students. A sought-after speaker on issues of race, culturally responsive pedagogy, and diversity, Sealey-Ruiz works with K-12 and higher education school communities to increase their racial literacy knowledge and move toward more equitable school experiences for their Black and Latinx students. She has also been recognized most recently as a 2023 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influencer.

Farah Jasmine Griffin, American Fellowship, 1991-92

Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin is a professor of English and comparative literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research in African American studies. Deeply troubled by the political turmoil happening across the U.S. during the 2016 presidential campaign, she began writing a literary memoir, Read Until You Understand, which explores what democracy means for the lives and work of Black authors and activists, and herself. Read Until You Understand was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in Nonfiction Winner of the 2022 Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award.

Claudine Gay, American Fellowship, 2003-04

Dr. Claudine Gay will become the second woman and first African-American to serve as President of Harvard University. She is a leading scholar of political behavior, considering issues of race and politics in America. Dr. Gay has explored such topics as how the election of minority officeholders affects citizens’ perceptions of their government and their interest in politics and public affairs, how neighborhood environments shape racial and political attitudes among Black Americans, the roots of competition and cooperation between minority groups, with a particular focus on relations between Black Americans and Latinos, and the consequences of housing mobility programs for political participation among the poor.

Shardé Davis, American Fellowship, 2018-19

Dr. Shardé Davis is an Afro-American academic who created the hashtag #BlackintheIvory, which was popularized on Twitter in the wake of widespread protests following the murder of George Floyd. Her primary area of specialization is interpersonal communication, with emphases in racial and gender identity, resistance, counter hegemony, and resilience, intra/intergroup dynamics, and supportive communication. Her specific line of research explores how Black women’s complex identities — and the power-laden social structures that shape them — influence the way they communicate with close others.

Sami Schalk, American Fellowship, 2013-14

Dr. Schalk’s interdisciplinary research focuses broadly on disability, race, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture. Her book Black Disability Politics explores how Black cultural workers have engaged disability as a social and political issue differently than the mainstream, white-dominated disability rights movement. In doing so, Dr. Schalk argues that because Black disability politics take on different qualities, the work has been overlooked or misrecognized within disability studies and Black studies alike. Using archival work on the Black Panther Party and the National Black Women’s Health Project, as well as interviews with contemporary Black disabled cultural works, the book offers a framework for both identifying and enacting Black disability politics for scholars and activists.

Black Women & the Pay Gap

Imagine being paid over 40% less than white men for doing the same work. If you’re a Black woman in the United States, that’s a likely reality.