Mellon Foundation Awards Morgan State University $500,000 Grant to Cultivate the Next Generation of Black, LGBTQ+ Scholar-Activists
Black Queer…Everything Program to Support Diversity in Leadership Roles that Further the Dialogue and Research of Social Justice Initiatives Addressing Anti-Black Racism
BALTIMORE — Morgan State University has received a $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation—the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture, and humanities—to launch Black Queer…Everything (BQE), a pioneering initiative that seeks to enrich the discourse of race and racialization nationwide with a specialized focus on the interplay of racialized blackness in relationship to the rich tapestry of sexual orientations and gender identities woven into the human experience. A first-of-its-kind initiative at Morgan, BQE’s mission is to develop innovative research opportunities, humanities-centered collaborative projects, and transformative teaching and curricula to provide meaningful experiences, training, and mentorship opportunities to the next generation of scholar-activists in Black queer studies.
“Black Queer…Everything invests in the next generation of humanities scholars and social justice activists working towards black liberation,” said Anika Simpson, Ph.D., an associate professor in Morgan’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the principal investigator for BQE. “Unlike the majority of racial justice programs housed at institutions of higher education, BQE is unique because we strive to elevate queer voices as leaders in social and cultural transformation.”
The humanities-based program, which is funded for three years, will be overseen by a faculty collective consisting of academic scholars from across the country and Canada. It will center on Black LGBTQ+ young people between the ages of 18-25, who have an interest in participating in community-centered research and dialogue that focuses on racism, inequality, and injustice. Beginning summer of 2024, BQE will host two week-long summer institutes, starting with the first cohort consisting of 15 young adults, who will work with the BQE faculty collective to develop social justice initiatives that are designed to help communities thrive. BQE will host faculty collective retreats to plan future projects and curriculum enhancements to support the program.
Morgan’s receipt of the grant comes as part of Mellon’s $12 million overall funding of the inaugural Higher Learning open call for civic engagement and social justice-related research and curricular projects. From this effort, 26 colleges and universities across the nation received support to further explore issues of vital social, cultural, and historical importance. The open call solicited proposals anchored in one of three specific categories: Civic Engagement and Voting Rights, Race and Racialization in the United States, and Social Justice and the Literary Imagination.
“This call is designed to highlight the essential role of the humanities—including those disciplines concerned with the interpretation of expressive culture—in addressing our society’s most salient social issues, past and present,” said Phillip Brian Harper, program director for Higher Learning at Mellon. “We seek to support not only incisive analytical work but also projects that creatively envision more just and equitable futures.”
Black Queer…Everything (BQE) focuses on using humanities research practices as a framework to encourage a deeper interrogation of the intersections of racial identity with sexual orientation and gender identity with the intent of constructing a more accurate account of the human experience. BQE will collaborate with the University’s Center for Religion and Cities’ Curriculum Lab to incorporate queer of color scholarship into existing humanities courses housed within Morgan’s College of Liberal Arts, as well as explore the potential development of new curricular offerings.
“We recognize that Historically Black Institutions play a vital role in serving black communities and the nation at large,” Dr. Simpson adds. “Morgan State University has a longstanding history in the struggle for racial justice. We are excited to further this work by uplifting the value and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
# # #
Cheryl Stewart or Dell Jackson, for University PR
Office of Public Relations & Strategic Communications
1700 East Cold Spring Lane
McMechen Hall Rm. 635
Baltimore, Maryland 21251