Gettysburg College Professor Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams was recently awarded the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award. This competitive grant, presented by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, will help Williams conduct a research project: Decolonial Peace and Justice Education: A Transatlantic Study of Four Afro-Centric, Youth-Based Organizations.
Williams, an associate professor of Africana Studies and Director of the Peace & Justice Studies program, will be pursuing his research in Ghana, Brazil, Jamaica, and Georgia in the U.S., and hopes to begin traveling in 2022.
“My project emanates from my interest in amplifying the beautiful voices, rich stories, and amazing work of Black youth across Africa and African diaspora, amidst a globalized anti-Blackness that is centuries old,” said Williams.
“I have selected organizations that do Afrocentric, youth-based work around peace and justice. I want to document the way in which these organizations foster Black pride in Black youth, and how the youth then utilize that pride in political action and transnational solidarity building. Apart from regular data collection, I will also create a 20 minute mini-documentary about this project.”
Williams explained, “I think the passion that animates my research, teaching, activism, and spirituality and its practices is a passion for healing, because we cannot do peace and justice well if we are broken inside. We need to turn our analytical gaze inward before we can help other people or communities.”
In addition to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award, Williams was also the first faculty member at the College to be awarded the Spencer Foundation Grant—one of the most distinguished grants in the field of education.
“The news of this grant came on the birthday of one of my best friends, who passed away 10 years ago. I feel as though he’s one of my guardian angels, gifting me the grant on that specific day.
“I can’t believe I've gotten these two major awards in one year. I’m humbled that people see the worth of my project. Honestly, if I didn’t get any funding, I would have done it myself. It would have taken me longer, but that’s how much I believe in this project.”
While preparing for his travels, Williams has also been making committed plans for other projects.
“This summer, I will be helping host the inaugural conference for the Consortium of North American Peace Programs (CONAPP) at the College virtually. I am also working with the Garthwait Leadership Center to develop a national leadership development program centered around peace and justice. We hope to create a jam-packed schedule of skill-building, in terms of conflict resolution, applying for grants, translating an exciting vision into something tangible, working on policy and lobbying, becoming more involved in the community, and building coalitions.
“My proposal to bring the International Peace Research Association to my home country of Trinidad in 2023 was accepted,” Williams continued. “So I’ll be co-chairing that planning committee, and I plan to invite the youth groups I’ll be working with during my Spencer and Fulbright research so they can share their work and form an Africana youth peace and justice network.”
Williams concluded, “I'm all about creating space for youth to do radical work. I organize the space, then step back into a supporting role and allow the youth to take over. I will continue to do that until the day I die.”
By Delaney Adams '21
Photos courtesy of Miranda Harple and Shawna Sherrell