Award ceremonyUniversität Heidelberg Confers James W.C. Pennington Award
Press Release No. 45/2022
30 May 2022
Double award ceremony: distinction goes to two historians from the United States
Two outstanding US historians – Prof. Dr Manisha Sinha and Prof. Dr Carol Anderson – have been selected to receive Heidelberg University’s James W.C. Pennington Award. Manisha Sinha, a researcher at the University of Connecticut and the 2021 awardee, is a leading expert in the history of the anti-slavery movement. A scholar at Emory University, Carol Anderson, winner of the 2022 award, engages with contemporary history, inequality and the socio-political situation in the United States. The Pennington Award is presented by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies and the Faculty of Theology in commemoration of American pastor and former slave James W.C. Pennington. He received an honorary doctorate from Ruperto Carola in 1849, making him the first African-American to have this academic honour bestowed upon him by a European university. The prizes will be presented in a double award ceremony on 1 June 2022, after a break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the occasion of the award ceremony, a moderated panel discussion will take place between the two Pennington Fellows on “The Unfinished Work of Reconstruction: The Long and Ongoing Civil Rights Struggle in the United States”. Prof. Sinha and Prof. Anderson will span the period between the time directly after the Civil War, which saw the first aspirations of the – unsuccessful – project to achieve the same civil rights in the United States, and the present-day ongoing efforts to complete the legacy of the period known as Reconstruction. Manisha Sinha’s publications include the award-winning “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition” (2016), which explores the movement to abolish slavery. She holds a Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Carol Anderson recently attracted attention with her publication, “The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America” (2021), which looks at racism and the right to bear arms in the United States. She is Professor of African American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
The ninth and tenth editions of the James W.C. Pennington Award honour two distinguished scholars engaged in research on subjects of special importance to Pennington. These include slavery and emancipation, peace, education, social reform, civil rights, religion, and intercultural understanding. The prize, which is endowed by the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, encompasses a month-long research stay in Heidelberg.
Born in 1807, James W.C. Pennington escaped bondage at the age of 18, learned to read and write, and from 1834 was the first Black American to attend classes at Yale University. In 1838 he was ordained a pastor of the Presbyterian Church. At the World Peace Congress in Paris in 1849, Pennington made the acquaintance of the Heidelberg scholar Friedrich Carové, who was so impressed by the American that, the very same year, he persuaded his university to grant Pennington an honorary doctorate in theology.