Rap star LL Cool J, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile to be honored with Du Bois medal at Harvard

Paul Sancya/Associated Press, File

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is among those set to receive Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.

By Globe Staff  

Rap icon LL Cool J, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and artist Kara Walker are among those who will be celebrated next month during an annual ceremony at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

They’ll receive the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at the fifth-annual Hutchins Center Honors event on Oct. 4 at the Sanders Theater in Cambridge, according to a statement from Harvard.


Additional honorees will include Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, and Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson. Educator and activist Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer, who died in May, will be honored posthumously.

The Du Bois medal honors individuals who have made “significant contributions to African and African American history and culture,” the statement said. The medal is named for the academic and prolific author whose book “The Souls of Black Folk,” first published in 1903, ranks among the most influential writings on race in America.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent Harvard professor who directs the Hutchins Center, praised this year’s honorees in the statement.

“These eight new recipients of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal look to the future as they celebrate the past,” Gates said. “They bring their genius and their abiding sense of social responsibility to the arts, public service, the corporate realm, and philanthropy. To tie their names to the great Du Bois honors all, and advances the Hutchins Center’s mission to educate, to interrogate, and to inspire.”

Prior honorees have included film star Pam Grier; Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns; pioneering hip-hop artist Lana “MC Lyte” Moorer; David Lattin and Willie Worsley of the 1966 Texas Western Miners men’s basketball team (the first team with an all-black starting lineup to win the NCAA basketball national championship); and opera legend Jessye Norman.

Mark Shanahan of the Globe Staff contributed to this report Travis Andersen can be reached at
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