African American Studies Hosts 2020 Black History in the Making Ceremony

February 28, 2020

Tressie McMillian Cottom and Black History in the Making attendees

Left: Tressie McMillian Cottom. Right: The ceremony attendees watch Cottom's keynote address.

On the evening of Monday, February 24, the Department of African American Studies hosted its annual Black History in the Making award ceremony.

The Black History in the Making award was founded in 1983 by Dr. Daryl Dance, the distinguished scholar of African American and Caribbean literature, who served as program coordinator during the 1983-84 academic year. Dr. Dance established the Black History in the Making Awards to recognize the achievements of African American students. In 2019, the department introduced awards for junior faculty, staff, and University and Academic Professionals. Recipients are chosen by their departments or units based on their academic excellence, community service, or professional experience. The Department of African American Studies hosts a ceremony in late February to honor the recipients. This year, 11 faculty/staff/UAP recipients and 58 student recipients were recognized.

A keynote address was delivered by Tressie McMillian Cottom, PhD. Cottom is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and is the critically-acclaimed author of Thick: And Other Essays and Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. In her speech, Cottom shared insight from her experiences as an undergraduate and graduate student and encouraged recipients to make the most of the small decisions they make that influence their lives.

Awards were presented by African American Studies faculty member Chioke I'Anson, PhD, and recipients were congratulated by representatives from their departments.

 Students being photographed with their award. Adriane Manigo and Shawn Utsey. Chioke I'Anson

Left to right: Recipients from the Department of Political Science pose for a picture. African American Studies recipient Adriane Manigo poses with department chair Dr. Shawn Utsey. Dr. Chioke I'Anson.

A list of the recipients is listed below. For more about the award and the 2020 recipients, please see our Black History in the Making page.

2020 Recipients

Faculty and Staff

MK Abadoo (Dance and Choreography)
Michelle Anderson (Theatre)
Daryl V. Fraser (School of Social Work)
Octavia Hall (Biology)
Lauren N. Jackson (University Academic Advising)
Marcel Jennings (Robertson School of Media and Culture)
Dr. Simon H. Okoth (Political Science)
Roy Roach (Robertson School of Media and Culture)
Dr. Mychal Smith (Chemistry)
David Emerson Toney (Theatre)
Dr. Travis Williams (Sociology)


Adrienne Adams (Interior Design)
Barbrianna Adams (VCU Globe)
Rebecca Alemu (Biology) Rachel Boutte (Psychology)
Patrice Branch (VCU Globe)
Kyrian O. Buba (Patient Counseling)
Cole Clark (Sculpture + Extended Media)
Bishop Clarke (Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies)
Amina Coleman-Davis (Art Foundation)
Ashley Coles (L. Douglas Wilder School—Public Administration)
Mikese Collier (Interior Design)
Tene’ Dixon (School of Social Work)
Malik Ellis (School of Social Work)
Jasmine Elmore (Photography + Film)
Khalid Elshowaya (Chemistry)
Theodore Evans (Biology)
Angel Flowers (Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies)
Michaela Friend (Political Science)
Nicole George (School of Social Work)
Dãa Guy-Vasson (Sculpture + Extended Media)
Briana Harris (School of Social Work)
Kyana Harris (Dance and Choreography)
Taylor Herndon (Robertson School—Strategic Advertising)
Brea Hill (Robertson School—Broadcast Journalism)
Brezaja Hutcheson (Photography + Film)
Tarazha Jenkins (Political Science)
Taylor Jenkins (Wilder School—Urban and Regional Studies and Planning)
Keola Jones (Dance and Choreography)
Malana Lee (Radiation Sciences)
Adriane Manigo (African American Studies)
Devin Manning (Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies)
Candace Mason (Forensic Science)
Maurice Mason (Graphic Design)
Devin Nelson-Hence (Psychology)
Kendra H. Norrell (Wilder School—Urban and Regional Studies and Planning)
Speciose Nyamatereko (L. Douglas Wilder School—Criminal Justice)
Hazim Oraibi (VCU Globe)
Claudia Otchere (VCU Globe)
Shaneka Campbell Owusu (Rehabilitation Counseling)
Claire Ozah (Robertson School—Public Relations)
Shaun Parker, II (Theatre)
Sasha Pierre-Louis (Sociology)
Britney Pitts (School of Social Work)
McAllister A. Reed (School of World Studies—Spanish)
Riley Reynolds (Political Science)
Kelsie Rudd (Political Science)
Amari Samya (Theatre)
Jessica Sims (English)
Gregory Kearse Smith, Jr. (History – W.E.B. Dubois Award for Excellence in History)
E’Lora Spencer (School of World Studies—Spanish)
Maia Stanley (Robertson School—Digital Journalism)
Arletta Thirus (Wilder School—Urban and Regional Studies and Planning)
Lauren Thomas (Robertson School—Creative Advertising)
Fatima Toure (Political Science)
Keandra L. Walthall (College of Health Sciences)
Lark Washington (Wilder School—Urban and Regional Studies and Planning)
Andrea Lynne Williams (Forensic Science)
Mi’Kayla Word (Chemistry)