Rap pioneer Queen Latifah will be receiving a prestigious award from Harvard University later this month, according to the Associated Press. Latifah is reportedly one of seven honorees for the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, an award given by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American studies. The medal is awarded in recognition of signifiant contributions to African and African American culture.
Queen Latifah is the second female rapper (after MC Lyte) and fourth rapper overall (after Nas in 2015, Lyte in 2016, and LL Cool J in 2017) to receive the award, whose recipients include Black luminaries such as Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, Ava DuVernay, Steve McQueen, Colin Kaepernick, Kehinde Wiley, and Dave Chappelle. This year, Latifah is being honored alongside poets Elizabeth Alexander and Rita Dove, philanthropists Sheila C. Johnson and Robert F. Smith, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie G. Bunch III, and artist Kerry James Marshall. The medal ceremony, scheduled for next Tuesday, October 22, will also have closing remarks given by Cornel West.
W.E.B. Du Bois was Harvard’s first black doctorate graduate. Queen Latifah’s contributions to culture include her pioneering work as one of hip-hop’s premiere rappers, a prolific acting career which saw her awarded an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Chicago in 2002, and her daytime talk show The Queen Latifah Show, which ran from late 2013 to early 2015. She is also reportedly producing a “hip-hop Romeo & Juliet” with Will Smith for Netflix and a Lifetime biopic following the careers of fellow rap pioneers Salt ‘N’ Pepa.