Kennedy/Graves Award

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The Kennedy/Graves award supports undergraduate and graduate students in any academic discipline who are doing research that pertains to Black Studies. The award also recognizes engaged scholarship that promotes social justice and transformative education. Applications will be accepted until Tuesday, April 16, 2021. Apply here.

A Legacy of Activism 

Shirley Graves Kennedy arrived in Santa Barbara in 1970 where she found a small, marginalized African American community and other people of color who faced job and housing discrimination, exclusion from the arts, and unfair treatment in the school system. Shirley Kennedy became involved in all these issues, as an organizer and spokeswoman and activist. After the age of 40, she completed her degree at UCSB and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Political Science in Government from Claremont University.

dr-shirley-kennedy_filmAs a faculty member in the UCSB Department of Black Studies, Dr. Kennedy was the community liaison for the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research, where she worked to transform the Santa Barbara community with her commitment to social justice, activism, and democracy. 

During those years, she worked to create bridges and collaborations between the University and the community. The Kennedy/Graves endowment was established by Dr. Shirley Kennedy and named in honor of her mother, Ione H. Graves. After her death in 2003, the Center Black Studies research established an annual lecture in her name. The Center has produced a brief documentary of Dr. Kennedy’s life, “It Was All of Us.”

The Kennedy/Graves Award was given for the first time in  Spring 2013 to two UCSB Barbara students Yoel Y. Haile was selected for  the undergraduate award. Shardé M. Davis was selected for the graduate  award.  Both students were selected for their extraordinary academic engagement and activism reflecting the spirit of Dr. Shirley  Kennedy.

Awardees

2019-2020

 

Lexxus Coffey Edison

English PhD Program

Faculty mentors: Dr. Felice Blake & Dr. Stephanie Batiste

My research is concerned with the study of Black Autobiographies as a literary mode that highlights the nuances of everyday livelihood that accompanies the struggles and joys of Black people. Thus, my research aims to understand how Black people engage in writing autobiographies and how Black autobiographies become a radical site for the community to intra-racially understand themselves and promote a sense of agency acting as a transformative site.

 

Almalina Gomes

Global Studies

Dr. Paul Spickard

Almalina’s research explores how social determinants to health have affected the nutrition and overall health of mothers and children in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000. By examining data provided by the Demographic and Health Surveys Program, Almalina analyzes how maternal and child health has improved over time and compares her findings to other African countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

2018-19

 

Miles-Hercules

 

Deandre Miles-Hercules

Linguistics

Dr. Anne Charity Hudley & Dr. Mary Bucholtz

 

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.” – Audre Lorde

This project investigates how Black femmes draw upon semiotic resources in the service of identity construction within textured - racialized and gendered - linguistic terrain. Talking back to the cool young brotha trope in the scientific study of language, this work intercedes at the intersections through qualitative multimodal analyses of Black femmes' interview discourse around education and identity.


Michelle Grue

Michelle Grue

Education

Dr. Karen Lunsford

 

Michelle Grue’s interdisciplinary research in Education and Writing draws on Black feminist, digital and African American rhetorics, as well as critical race/anti-racist education theories to investigate diversity issues in academia. Her current research projects include a joint study with Black studies and sociology to grade sociology PhD departments on how well they prepare their students to research and teach on issues of race and gender, and dissertation research applying this methodology to study rhetoric and composition doctoral programs and how they “officially” teach graduate students to research and teach on issues of race and gender. Her master’s thesis explored how Black female faculty utilize the digital environment to mitigate isolation, share their research, and cultivate a national and international reputation. Building her own national  and international reputation, Michelle has presented at several conferences across her disciplinary interests in both the US and UK. Teaching academic and creative writing courses

over the last three years, Michelle enjoys using her pedagogical and theoretical knowledge with the same diverse student population that inhabits the focus of her research.


 

Ginette Sims

Education

Dr. Maryam Kia-Keating


Ginette Sims is a 4th year doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology within the department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She received her BA in Anthropology at Williams College and her MA in Counseling Psychology at UCSB. Her research focuses on how sociopolitical and cultural factors influence trauma symptomology in underserved populations. Her current project examines the psychosocial impact of being exposed to media containing police violence towards African-Americans on African-Americans.


Alexandra Gessesse

Alexandra Gessesse

Black Studies

George Lipsitz

 

Alexandra’s research explores the ways in which social media websites target advertisements that centralize race, causing inequalities amongst accessible housing opportunities. Her project(s) examines how race is used in the current era of technology through exploitating users’ extensive personal data and characteristics protected by law — i.e. race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability — as determinants for who can view housing ads, even when it is not the advertiser’s intent. Frequently characterized as “users’ data content,” Alexandra explores how these discriminatory practices and procedures skew opportunities in housing, health, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines.


Capture

Jasmine Kelekay

Sociology (with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Black Studies)

Dr. Victor Rios and Dr. George Lipsitz

 

My dissertation investigates the impact of the global circulation of racialized discourses about crime and the policing practices they justify on the everyday experiences of African diasporic communities in two cities across two national contexts: Stockholm, Sweden, and New York, U.S.A. Using a qualitative mixed-methods approach consisting of multi-sited ethnography and critical discourse analysis, I examine three related questions: 1) how criminalization influences the racialization of people of African descent within and across national contexts, and how racialized discourses intersect with those of religion, ethnicity, and immigration, 2) how racialized policing manifests in the daily lives of racialized immigrant communities within and across these cities, and 3) how African diasporic communities organize to resist racialized policing.


Charlene Pic

Charlene Macharia

Education

Betsy Brenner

 

My primary research interest is in Black student retention in higher education, with a focus on perceived institutionalized support versus the support systems that Black students create for themselves, as well as issues of identity formation, representation, and resiliency. I am currently working towards completing a research apprenticeship under the guidance of Lupe Garcia, whereby I am analyzing the qualitative data from the 2017 Black student survey that was issued by the Black Resource Committee.


2017-18

Erin Adamson

Erin Adamson

Linguistics

Advisor: Mary Bucholtz

My research centers on identity construction and community building by focusing on hand games and ring play among women of African descent in the United States using an ethnomusicological analysis of the interaction between language and the body. Frequently characterized simply as games played by children, this is an activity of socialization that unites the linguistic, cultural, and historical aspects of Black girlhood.

Nikita Carney

Nikita Carney

Sociology

Advisor: George Lipsitz and Victor Rios

Mainstream media and scholarship dismisses Haiti as the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” and fixates on Haiti’s weak infrastructure, chronic political instability, and outflow of refugees. Through her research, Nikita intends to tell a very different story about Haiti, emphasizing how central the nation and its people are to understanding transnational processes of defining the national boundaries. The strength, resilience, and adaptability of the Haitian nation enable it to thrive in enclaves across the world. Her research project is a multi-sited, transnational study that examines how migrant Haitian women negotiate cultural citizenship and national belonging through their relationships to the paid workforce.

Jasmine Kelekay

Jasmine Kelekay

Sociology

Advisor: Victor Rios

My research explores how people of African descent confront what it means to be Black, and how ideas about Blackness are shaped by varying local contexts and intersecting identities. Specifically, I explore the relationship between racialization and criminalization, with a particular focus on constructions of Blackness, the social control of African diasporic populations in transnational perspective, and the ways in which African diasporic people construct and enact counter-hegemomic identities and discourses in resistance to racial oppression.


Charlene Pic

Charlene Macharia

Education

Advisor: Betsy Brenner

My primary research interest is in Black student retention in higher education, with a focus on perceived institutionalized support versus the support systems that Black students create for themselves, as well as issues of identity formation, representation, and resiliency. I am currently working towards completing a research apprenticeship under the guidance of Lupe Garcia, whereby I am analyzing the qualitative data from the 2017 Black student survey that was issued by the Black Resource Committee.

Jamaal Muwwakkil

Jamaal Muwwakkil

Linguistics

Advisor: Mary Bucholtz

My research looks at language and identity formation in an educational context.  I pay special attention to the experiences of non-traditional Black transfer students and how they negotiate language variation at predominantly white universities.

Megan Spencer

Megan Spencer

Feminist Studies

Advisor: Mireille Miller-Young

Megan is a second year PhD student in the department of Feminist Studies. Her research focuses on the intersections of black queer and feminist geographies, transatlantic slavery, and ecological justice. She is interested in understanding how gendered forms of antiblack violence are tied to issues of land and spatiality, particularly in the United States, the Caribbean, and Brazil, as well as the ways that black women writers articulate relationships with land that foreground refusal, pleasure, and healing.
David Stamps

David Stamps

Ph.D Student, Communication Department

Advisor: Dana Mastro

David’s research focuses on representations of marginalized groups in mass media and the impact of mass media imagery on audience members. His current project(s) examine the intricacies of Black media engagement among Black audiences and subsequent media effects, specifically on Black males.

Jordan Victorian

Jordan Victorian

Feminist Studies

Advisor: Mireille Miller-Young

My project explores how Black Americans practice consensual nonmonogamy and alternative sexual practices. I center these marginalized intimacies to analyze the politics and pleasures of black sexuality within a context of racial-sexual regulation.

2016-17

David Stamps David Stamps is a PhD student at University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Masters Degree in Mass Communication from California State University, Northridge. While in attendance, he was named the Pearl S. Simmons Scholar, Graduate Equity Fellow, and a finalist for the CSU Trustee Award. His research interests include exploring media effects and stereotyping of marginalized groups within mass and entertainment media. David also studies the intersections of class and race with regard to social media and digital activism. He has presented at several conferences including the Broadcast Education Association conference and Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture conference. His most recent peer reviewed journal publication,  The social construction of the African American family on broadcast television: A comparative content analysis of The Cosby Show and Blackish , is now available in the Howard Journal of Communication. A former film publicist and grant writer, he also holds a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. You can find him on Twitter at @dlsdanz2.
Michelle Oyewole Michelle Tokunbo Oluwaseyi Oyewole (aka “Toke”) is a doctoral candidate in the UCSB Department of Geography. Her dissertation research examines social and environmental outcomes of school gardening, with a focus on varying effects in neighborhoods of different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic composition. During her time at UCSB, she has been a member of the UCSB Black Resources Committee, the UCSB Graduate Student Association, the UC Student Association, and she was a finalist in the 2014 UCSB Grad Slam. She was the 2016-2017 chair of the UC Student Association (UCSA) Graduate and Professional Student Committee. In this position she advocated for equity and affordability for UC graduate students. She served as editor-in-chief of the 2016 UC Graduate Policy Journal. She organized the first UC system-wide Graduate Day of Action (focusing on faculty diversity, initiating cultural competency trainings, faculty mentorship practices, and disparities in standard of living among graduate students of different identities). She has conducted research on and advocated for reform in graduate education in meetings with the UC Office of the President, federal and state legislators, and student leaders from all UC campuses.
Saxon Cropper Saxon Cropper-Sykes (Sociology, Feminist Studies) His research project was on "High Impact Practices on Black American Success in Higher Education." He was an active member of
the Black Resource Committee and he initiated and coordinated the Black Student Engagement Program in his senior year. He is currently attending UC Berkeley School of Law.​
Erin Adamson Erin Adamson is a PhD student in the Linguistics department. She attended Spelman College as an undergrad before receiving her Masters from North Carolina State University. Before coming to UCSB, she completed a Fulbright ETA in Colombia and taught community college in her hometown of Charlotte, NC. She has served as the Linguistics department representative for the Graduate Student Association and Vice President of the Black Graduate Student Association. For the 2017-2018 academic year, she will be serving as Vice President of External Affairs for the Graduate Student Association. Her research interests include African American Women's Language and Spanish-English bilingualism.
Kendra Calhoun Kendra Calhoun's research is based in linguistics and draws heavily on research and theories from Black Studies, Communication, and Media Studies, in addition to other disciplines. Her interdisciplinary research centers around language and race and language on social media, with a focus on humor and other discursive forms of social activism on different social media platforms. Her M.A. thesis analyzed racial humor on Vine as a genre of sociopolitical critique, and my current research analyzes "everyday activism" and the construction of Black identity and Black womanhood on Tumblr. She completed her B.A. in English Language & Literature and Psychology at the University of South Carolina, and she is a Ph.D student in the department of Linguistics., where she completed my M.A. in Fall 2016.
Michelle Grue Michelle Grue’s interdisciplinary research in Education and Writing draws on Black Feminist, Rhetorical, and Education Studies to investigate how Black women survive and thrive in academia. Her current project specifically looks at how Black female faculty utilize the digital environment to mitigate isolation, to share their research, cultivate a national and international reputation, and often engage in activist work. Michelle attended Pepperdine University, Seaver College in Malibu, California for her undergraduate studies, earning a Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing. After which, she worked as an academic advisor while completing her teaching credentials in English and History there as well. She has completed 2 years of her MA/PhD program in the University of California, Santa Barbara Education Department and looks forward to continuing her studies here in the fall.
Amoni Thompson Amoni Thompson is a PhD student in the Feminist Studies program at UC Santa Barbara. As a UNCF/Mellon-Mays Fellow, she graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Spelman College with a BA in Comparative Women's Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. Upon graduating from Spelman College, she worked as the Women and Human Rights Intern for a nonprofit organization in Atlanta, GA called Women Engaged. She assisted the executive director with research, writing, publishing, and editing articles based on current women’s/human rights issues. She also worked part time as an afterschool educator in the West End Neighborhood of Atlanta, GA serving primarily elementary-aged youth. Amoni currently works as a graduate mentor with the Black Student Engagement Program as part of the Black Resource Committee at UCSB. She also serves as the Vice President of the Black Graduate Students Association. Her research examines the cultural representations of Black girl artists in the U.S. South to understand how Black girls create geographies of pleasure and joy. It examines the ways spatial politics impact how Black girls in the South use expressive culture as a tool to enact their own visions of freedom and pleasure. Her work is interested how we can further understand what it means to be Black and southern in this post-civil rights era through the experience of Black girls.

2015-16

2014-15

  • Jamelia Harris
  • Rachel Scarlett

2013-14

  • Kezia Gopaul-Knights received her Ph.D. from the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education in Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology. Her dissertation research examined the association between corporal punishment and outcomes in Trinidadian youth. Specifically, her study investigated the relation between corporal punishment and subjective well-being and externalizing behaviors (bullying and delinquency). Additionally, it explored whether this relation was influenced by parental warmth or rejection and youth's cultural beliefs about corporal punishment and revealed that there was a direct link between corporal punishment and youth subjective well-being.

2012-13

Yoel Yoel Y. Haile, a native of Eritrea, was recognized for his extensive involvement with  student organizations as well as his research, including his recent  paper “Eritrean Youth: Histories of Student Activism, State Repression  and Resistance.” Haile also received the UCSB Center for Black Studies  Research Anita J. Mackey Award, along with Taisonya Tidwell and George  Jefferson. 
Sharde Shardé Davis’s interdisciplinary research uses theories and approaches from  Communication, Feminist Studies and Ethnic Studies to investigate how  ethnicity and gender shape relational dynamics and communication  processes. Shardé attended the University of California, Santa Barbara  for her undergraduate and graduate studies, completing a Bachelors of  Arts in Communication and Feminist Studies (high honors) and a Masters  of Arts in Communication. She will be continuing her studies in the  Communication Studies Department at the University of Iowa this fall.