CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Boxing legend, philanthropist and social activist Muhammad Ali, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones are among the 2015 recipients of Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Medal.
Muhammad Ali, considered the greatest for what his has done in and outside of the boxing ring. He was and remains the only three–time lineal world heavyweight champion in the ring. One of his many notable achievements outside of the boxing arena was traveling to Iraq during the Gulf War and meeting with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of American hostages.
Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, from 2009 to 2015. Holder, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama, is the first African-American to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General.
It was also a historical night for Hip-Hop! Nas, The hip-hop icon becomes the first rapper to receive the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American Studies, adding another accolade to his long list of accomplishments. Nas established a relationship with the ivy league college two years ago, when Harvard created the Nasir Jones Fellowship — a program set to uncover “projects from scholars and artists that build on the rich and complex hip-hop tradition.”
The medal honors those who have made significant contributions to African and African-American history and culture, intercultural understanding and human rights.
Other 2015 recipients included Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and chairman of the board of Ariel Investment Trust; Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first black woman to enroll in the University of Georgia; and artist Carrie Mae Weems.
The award, named after the NAACP founder, was established in 2000. W.E.B. DuBois was an acclaimed author, historian and civil rights activist.
Past honorees of the award include Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Shonda Rhimes and Maya Angelou.