John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation announced the winners of its prestigious fellowship on Thursday, and this year’s class is once again a diverse mix of scholars, artists, and activists.
Two Black women — playwright Dominique Morisseau and choreographer and performer Okwui Okpokwasili — are among the list of this year’s 25 awardees. Like the rest of the fellows, Morisseau and Okpokwasili were picked because of their outstanding achievements and exceptional talent.
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“Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these 25 MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities. Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all,” Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, said in a statement on the website.
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Born in Detroit, Morisseau’s plays often focus on “the lives of individuals and communities grappling with economic and social changes, both current and historical.” A University of Michigan grad, Morisseau’s The Detroit Project — a trilogy of plays about her hometown — have been hailed as a necessary exploration of life in Motor City.
Okpokwasili was born and raised in the Bronx to immigrant parents from Nigeria and centers Black women in her work. Her one-woman shows and performances tell “stories of resistance and resilience” of those women who “have been left out of dominant cultural narratives.” A graduate of Yale University, Okpokwasili’s work has explored everything from West African griot poets, the experiences of Black women in the Bronx, and the Bring Back Our Girls movement.
The MacArthur Foundation awards each of its fellows $625,000 to use however they want.
In addition to Morisseau and Okpokwasili, this year’s fellowship class includes civil rights activist Rev. William J. Barber II, community organizer Raj Jayadev, painter Titus Kaphar, and writer John Keene.
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