The UT Libraries is thrilled to announce the inaugural Black Queer Studies Student Awards. These awards will recognize, honor, and celebrate excellence in student scholarship and creative endeavors in the field of Black Queer Studies.
The graduate award is named in honor of the late Monica Katrice Roberts (May 4, 1962 – October 5, 2020). Known as the TransGriot (Gree-oh) a French term for West African jele/kevel/gewel/arokin — a storyteller, oral historian, and praise singing poet-musician — Ms. Roberts was an African-American blogger, journalist, archivist, online talk show host and trans human rights advocate. A native Houstonian, proud Texan and unapologetic Black Trans woman, she founded her blog TransGriot in 2006 to appropriately and respectfully document violence against and accomplishments within transgender communities globally, nationally and locally. Ms. Roberts used her blog to speak truth to power, discuss the world around her, share her passion for sports and foster understanding and acceptance of trans people especially within communities of color. Beyond her blog, her writing also appeared in various online and print publications including the Bilerico Project, Ebony.com, the Huffington Post and the Advocate. Among her many honors, she received the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award (2015), the Robert Coles Call of Service Award (2016), a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog (2018), the Barbara Jordan Breaking Barriers Award from the Mayor of Houston (2019), and the Susan J Hyde Award for Longevity in The Movement from the National LGBTQ Task Force (2020). On the day of Ms. Roberts’ memorial service, Houston’s Mayor declared October 24 Monica Katrice Roberts Day. Her great legacy continues at https://transgriot.com/.
The undergraduate prize is named for Kristen Hogan and Lindsey Schell, who founded the UT Libraries’ groundbreaking Black Queer Studies Collection in 2009-2010. At the time, Kristen was a graduate student at UT's School of Information, and she observed issues in library cataloging practice when describing race, sexuality, and gender. She approached Lindsey Schell, who at the time was the librarian for Women's & Gender Studies. They worked with UT faculty and other library staff to create a new description practice that made books by Black Queer and Trans authors more visible and discoverable in the library catalog. To learn more about the collection’s founding, please see this article by Kristen Hogan in the journal Progressive Librarian.
The prize money is dispersed through the UT Libraries, and primarily draws from the Black Queer Studies Collection Endowment, originally funded through a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign in 2021. Additional support for these awards and the Black Queer Studies Collection comes from the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, and the English Department.
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