The Department of African American Studies sponsors an annual speaker series and award fund in commemoration of Grace Sims Holt, Professor Emeritus and founder of UIC's Black Studies Program, later to become this department. Professor Holt joined UIC in 1968 as an Associate Professor of Speech and Communications tasked with establishing the campus Black Studies Program, which she headed from 1974 to 1986. In addition, Professor Holt helped gain recognition for black English as an object of study and consistently pushed for maintaining high levels of standards for students that allowed for alternative evidences of accomplishment.

The Grace Holt Memorial Award

The Grace Holt Memorial Award honors undergraduate and graduate students who have worked actively to improve the lives of African Americans. Eligible students must have a demonstrated commitment to issues of racial justice and a minimum grade point average of 3.0. The winner of this competition will receive a $1,000.00 award.

The African American Studies Departmental Award

The African American Studies Departmental Award provides both recognition and support for its majors and minors. All students who have taken at least two African American Studies courses and who have demonstrated academic achievement and/or who are working under challenging circumstances are strongly encouraged to apply.  Recipient is awarded $1000.00.  

Completed applications for both awards are due Feb 28, 2018 at 5 p.m. Applicants must provide two letters of recommendation, a brief essay, official transcripts, and the Application Form. For more information, please see the Information Flyer or contact Teresa Moreno.

2017 Award Recipients

  • Regina Baker, senior, won the Grace Holt Memorial Award.
  • Rasaan Booker, a senior History major and African American studies minor, won the Departmental Award
  • Tauja Merriweather and Jon-Tel Carter both received honorable mentions. 

2016 Award Recipients

  • Ash Stephens, a Phd student in the Department of Criminology, Law & Justice, with a concentration in Gender & Women's Studies, won the Grace Holt Memorial Award. He is also a TA in the Department of African American Studies
  • Travell Williams, a senior African American Studies major, won the Departmental Award


Grace Holt talking with a reporter at Dr. Joyner's "Profiles of a Legend" Exhibit in 1985