University of Delaware
Junior Brooklynn K. Hitchens (left) is presented the James E. Newton Student Award by Carol Henderson, chair of the Department of Black American Studies.

BAMS awards

Black American Studies announces presentation of four awards


11 a.m., June 7, 2012--The University of Delaware Department of Black American Studies presented four awards to members of the campus community, and the greater Newark-Wilmington area as well, during its 2012 Convocation.

The 2012 James E. Newton Student Award was given to junior Brooklynn K. Hitchens for her outstanding academic and community accomplishments.  Hitchens is a double major in the departments of Black American Studies and English and has maintained a 3.6 grade point average. 

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Hitchens is a McNair Scholar, a research assistant for Yasser Payne, associate professor of Black American Studies, and P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ned B. Allen Chair of English and Black American Studies, and she is the incoming president of the Black Student Union.

This past fall, Hitchens joined some of her peers in visiting local high schools in the area to encourage students from underrepresented groups to attend college, and to consider UD as an option.  Because of her commitment to academic excellence and community service on and off campus, Hitchens was awarded this certificate of recognition. This award also has a monetary gift.

The 2012 Ujima Award was presented to UD's Erica Armstrong-Dunbar for her support and dedication to maintaining and building a quality academic community for students and colleagues to thrive.  Ujima, the third principle of the Nguzo Saba (the seven principles of Kwaanza) is defined as “Collective Work and Responsibility.” 

Armstrong-Dunbar, an associate professor of Black American Studies and history, has been a member of the University community for over 12 years, and she currently serves as the first director of the Library Company’s Program in African American History in Philadelphia.  

She is a scholar, published author, mentor, and teacher who specializes in 19th century African American and women’s history.

The 2012 Ubuntu Award was presented to George H. Watson, Unidel Professor of Physics and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for his advocacy of diversity initiatives campus-wide. 

The Ubuntu Award is given to individuals who support and advance programming benefitting the University of Delaware academic community.

Ubuntu is an age-old African term for humaneness -- for caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation.  As an ideal, it promotes cooperation between individuals, cultures and nations.

In honor of BAMS 40th anniversary celebration, an inaugural community award, the Sankofa Community Award, was instituted. This award recognizes community-based service and an individual’s ongoing efforts to build strong and productive relationships between UD and the greater Wilmington community at large. 

This year’s recipient, Raye Jones-Avery, has contributed more than 30 years of service in the field of urban community-based development and education. Her accomplishments include the establishment of Kuumba Academy and the Christina Cultural Arts Center.  

Jones-Avery has been the recipient of numerous awards including the 2005 James M. Baker Distinguished Citizen Mayoral Award in recognition of her outstanding service to children and families throughout the city of Wilmington. 

Sankofa is often associated with a Ghanaian proverb, which translates, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” BAMS honors Jones-Avery’s commitment to building bridges between the arts, education and social empowerment. 

Article by Carol E. Henderson

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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