CAMBRIDGE – One of the most prestigious awards given out by Harvard University is the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, which honors people have made significant contributions and had a sizable impact on black culture and black history. The 2019 edition of the medal will be awarded to seven different people, including musician and actor Queen Latifah.
On October 22, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research of Harvard will award Latifah for her contributions to black culture, largely through music, film, and television. Latifah has been a major player on the pop culture scene for decades and she is undoubtedly deserving of the honor.
Also named as recipients of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal in 2019 are poets Rita Dove and Elizabeth Alexander, Smithsonian executive Lonnie Bunch, Vista Equity Partners founder Robert Smith, painter Kerry James Marshall, and BET founder Sheila Johnson.
W.E.B. Du Bois was a world-renowned scholar who was the first black doctor to graduate from Harvard during the 1800s. The library at UMass Amherst is also named for Du Bois.
Latifah burst onto the scene with her debut album in 1989, All Hail the Queen. She became a household name by starring on the Fox sitcom, Living Single, for five seasons during the 1990s. She was nominated for a 1998 Image Award for her performance. Latifah’s music career is best defined by her Grammy-winning, chart-topping hit, “U.N.I.T.Y.” She produced seven studio albums over the course of twenty years.
Over the years, Latifah has appeared in all sorts of movies, in addition to her successful music career. She had lead turns in Joyful Noise and Hairspray, as well as in the sequels of the Ice Age franchise. Latifah also appeared in Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead and the Academy Award-winning Chicago. She was last seen in the 2017 surprise hit comedy Girls Trip and can next be seen as Ursula, the sea witch, in ABC’s live television musical adaptation of The Little Mermaid. It will air on November 5.