Noted African American historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham was among the 10 recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal. President Barack Obama honored the winners of the prestigious award on Sept. 10 in the White House East Room.
According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, “The National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.”
Higginbotham made a name for herself with her meticulous studies into Black American life. In 1993, she published the book “Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church: 1880–1920.” She served as editor in chief of “The Harvard Guide to African-American History.” She also co-edited the 12-volume “African American National Biography” with Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Higginbotham hails from a highly respected family. Her aunt, Julia Evangeline Brooks, was one of the first members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Her great-grandfather was born a slave and later served on the jury to try former Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
Other honorees included architect and preservationist Everett L. Fly, writer Jhumpa Lahiri and scholar Fedwa Malti-Douglas.