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Northwestern University

Professor Darlene Clark Hine to Receive National Humanities Medal

Pioneering historian will accept honor at a White House ceremony

Professor Darlene Clark Hine, a pioneer in the field of African American women’s history, has been chosen to receive the National Humanities Medal, the White House announced on July 22.

Hine is the Board of Trustees Professor of African American Studies and a professor of history at Weinberg College. She is the author of many works on black history, including a three-volume encyclopedia, “Black Women in America.”

“This was a total surprise,” Hine said of the phone call from the White House informing her that she’d received the award. “I was literally speechless. You don’t do this work thinking you’ll be thanked. You do it because you are interested in a full accounting of history, including those who have been excluded because of their race, class, gender and sexual orientation. I’ve been trying to make that history be more inclusive of other people’s contributions.”

Hine will accept the medal from President Barack Obama at a July 28 White House ceremony honoring the 22 recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Medal of Humanities. Her fellow recipients include a host of other well-known figures, including novelist Julia Alvarez, composer John Kander, DreamWorks CEO and director Jeffrey Katzenberg and writer Maxine Hong Kingston.

“Prolific scholarship and leadership”

Hine, according to the announcement from the White House, was selected “for enriching our understanding of the African American experience. Through prolific scholarship and leadership, Dr. Hine has examined race, class, and gender and shown how the struggles and successes of African American women shaped the nation we share today.”

Hine said she was pleased the award would bring more attention to her field of study. “This takes the work that I and so many others have been doing within the academic community to a broader public and it may inspire other people to continue to understand and research the past in an innovative way,” she said.

Clark has been a professor at Weinberg College since 2004. In a 2013 interview with Weinberg magazine, she explained her approach to her work:

“My personal code consists of passion, hard work, and sharing the fruits of intellectual labors with others. The goal is to become a transformative agent in the struggle against social inequalities, ignorance and exploitation. What does that mean? Whatever your talent is, you must share it with great passion. That’s really hard to do, because in our society we tend to look askance at people with great passion. But that’s the key, because it will take you through a lifetime.”

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