Historians among those receving $50,000 Fletcher awards for civil rights work

Historians in the News

NEW YORK – Alphonse Fletcher, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Fletcher Asset Management, Inc., today announced the selection of the 2007 class of Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellows. The fellows are recipients of a charitable initiative created by Mr. Fletcher in 2004 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education. The fellowship program will award each of the five Fletcher Fellows a stipend of $50,000 for work that contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of Brown v. Board.

Regarding the third class of fellows, Mr. Fletcher said, “Our focus this year was on emerging and mid-career scholars and writers. Working in the fields of art, literature, history, law, and education, this distinguished group, like the two before it, is approaching both the historical and modern-day challenges of integration and race relations in ways that are innovative and provocative.”

The Fletcher Fellows and their projects are:

• Hilton Als, New Yorker staff writer, “The Group” – recreates the turbulence of the 1950s and 1960s through the exploration of writer James Baldwin’s outsider status in the New York branch of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power movement, thus illuminating the less-than-monolithic nature of these movements.

• Cheryl Finley, Assistant Professor of the History of Art, Cornell University, “Picturing Black Power! U.S. Civil Rights and African Liberation Movements on Film”- examines the visual culture, particularly on film, of the American Civil Rights Movement and its adaptation by African liberation movements in the 1960s.

• Joy James, John B. and John T. McCoy Presidential Professor of Africana Studies and College Professor in Political Science, Williams College, “Winnowing Democracy­Black Women in National Politics: 1964-2004, Fannie Lou Hamer to Condoleezza Rice” - offers a historical survey of black women in national politics, a first of its kind.

• Kenneth W. Mack, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, “Representing the Race: The Transformation of Civil Rights Lawyering and Politics, 1920-1955” - looks at the changes in the profession and practice of civil rights law in the three decades leading up to Brown, which made Brown possible.

• Charles M. Payne, Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, “Fragile Victories: Improving Urban Schools at Scale” - follows the effects on education in the years after Brown, with a particular interest in how the legacy of Brown can be used to effect positive change in the nation's urban schools.

The Selection Committee is chaired by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, and includes Professor K. Anthony Appiah, Laurance Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University; Dr. James P. Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center, Director of the School Development Program, and Associate Dean for Student Affairs, School of Medicine; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania. The Committee selected the five Fletcher Fellows from the 70 applications submitted.

Professor Gates called it “the best group of applications that we've seen in the three years of the program.” Gates continued, “Our new fellows are taking a hard look at the real-world events around the time of Brown v. Board, in the arts world and the social world of law and politics, that gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement, and also at the long-term effects of those events on educational theory and practice, which were at the heart of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision.”

With the fellowship program now in its third year, Mr. Fletcher is excited about the many varieties of scholarship and creative work funded thus far. He said, “The work of the five new fellows is highly independent and specific to their own fields of study. However,” he added, “it is also inextricably connected with the work of the previous classes of fellows by its dedication to promoting the goals and legacy of Brown v. Board.”

Information on the program is available at the Fletcher Foundation web-site www.fletcherphilanthropy.org <http://www.fletcherphilanthropy.org>; .

The Fletcher Foundation is a not-for-profit private charitable organization created by Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. in 1993, approximately two years after his founding of Fletcher Asset Management, Inc. (FAM). Just as one of FAM’s primary goals is to generate strong investment returns by investing in “responsible” companies, The Fletcher Foundation seeks to invest in, and thereby provide strong returns for, communities. The Foundation in conjunction with charitable contributions from FAM and Mr. Fletcher supports a wide variety of programs and charitable activities, and is most strongly committed to projects that better the community at large. Projects include current use donations through the Fletcher Fund at the New York Community Trust and endowment scale gifts to select institutions in commemoration of the 1954 landmark Supreme Court Decision “Brown v. Board of Education.”

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