Jessica Ballard-Lawrence, Archivist for Multicultural Collections and Services, has received the Ebony Excellence Award (faculty category) from the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center (BNAACC) on the University of Illinois campus.
According to the University Archives’ Out of the Vault newsletter, “The annual awards celebrate faculty, staff, students, student organizations, and campus departments for their outstanding work to promote Black excellence.” BNAACC states that the Faculty Member of the Year Award recognizes work that “furthers [student] interests in learning and opportunities through culturally relevant pedagogies and by fostering a culture of care.”
The assistant professor was recognized with a trophy for her efforts in helping to document BNAACC’s history. As noted by her nominator, Ballard-Lawrence is a valued contributor to the Champaign County African American Heritage Trail’s steering committee. As one of its members, she has provided important background on the activism of African American students in the 20th century. Of particular note are demonstrations in the 1940s against the community’s discriminatory business practices, and efforts in the 1960s to develop better housing and resource opportunities for African American students at Illinois. Ballard-Lawrence’s research will be used to create informative interpretive signs on the Trail, which seeks to commemorate the contributions of African Americans in the wider community.
Ballard-Lawrence was among 17 recipients of the honor granted this spring. The occasion is a signature event of the Center, which has served as a resource and respite for UI students since 1969.