The Marcellus Blount Memorial Fund
The Marcellus Blount Memorial Fund
These funds honoring our beloved colleague are awarded at the discretion of the department chair to students or faculty who are pursuing research relating to the study of racial equality.
Marcellus Blount was an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and held a variety of leadership positions during his years at Columbia, including service as the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, and Director of the graduate program in African-American Studies. Among the highlights of his distinguished career are the co-edited collections Representing Black Men and Poetry for Young People: African American Poetry, and the recently completed Listening for My Name: African American Men and the Politics of Friendship. At the time of his death, he was working on a memoir, Still Here.
Beyond his scholarly achievements, we remember Marcellus as a trailblazer and the first African-American scholar to teach literature at Columbia. His commitment to his students and dedication to progressive causes were evident throughout his career. He was the only untenured black professor in the university when he was arrested in 1987 alongside student protesters seeking greater diversity in the University’s faculty ranks.
In many ways, Columbia’s continuing efforts to address diversity began with the leadership of faculty like Marcellus and his peers. Marcellus always used his platform as a scholar and educator to advocate on behalf of marginalized communities, including women, LGBTQ groups, and communities of color. To learn more about his advocacy, please access selections of recent interviews here, here, and here. More information on Marcellus’s life and the significant impact he had on his students and colleagues can be read at diverseeducation.com.
AAADS Congratulates Recipients of the Marcellus Blount Memorial Fund
Please join us in congratulating the recipients of the Marcellus Blount Memorial Fund. Our beloved colleague, the late Professor Marcellus Blount, was an integral member of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department. Blount served as the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies in African American Studies. Blount was the first African American literature professor in Columbia University’s English department. He is remembered for his decades-long efforts of championing diversity on campus, as well as his passion for literature and the arts.
Marcellus Blount Memorial Fund Recipients
Kojo Abudu (MA MODA Art History, 2022)
Kojo Abudu is a recent graduate of the Modern & Contemporary Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies (MODA) program at Columbia University. Exploring themes that include decolonization, the Global South and colonial modernity, Abudu’s work is based in three cities: Lagos, London and New York City. His recent exhibit titled Living with Ghosts opened at the Wallach Art Gallery in New York in March 2022 and at Pace Gallery in London in July 2022. As part of the Lagos Biennial, Traces of Ecstasy will be Abudu’s next exhibition set to open in 2023.
Assistant Professor Vanessa Agard- Jones
A Faculty Research Fellow in the Institute for Research in African American Studies, Vanessa Agard- Jones is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. Agard- Jones also serves on the Executive Council of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality. A former Board Chair of the Audre Lorde Project in New York City, Agard-Jones’ work focuses on the environment crisis, racialization, gender and sexuality. Her most recent anthropological works include The Synthetic Atlantic, Mapping Toxic Entanglements and Detox and Remediation, Reparation, and the Promise of Repair.