Annette Gordon-Reed ’84 was awarded the National Humanities Medal in February for her significant and innovative research on Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and the life of Sally Hemings, and for illuminating a chapter in American history that had previously been given little recognition.
Gordon-Reed, who returned to the Law School for the Fall term of 2009 to teach a section of Legal Profession and the seminar Politics, Social Life and Law in Jeffersonian America, authored the book “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” which examines three generations of a slave family owned by Jefferson. She was honored with both the National Book Award for nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize in History.
Gordon-Reed was hailed by the New York Review of Books as “one of the most astute, insightful, and forthright historians of this generation.”
The National Humanities Medal—which recognizes outstanding achievements in history, literature, cultural philanthropy and museum leadership—was presented by President Barack Obama ’91 during a ceremony in the East Wing of the White House on Feb. 25.
The medal honors individuals or groups “whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.”
In addition to Gordon-Reed, the medal was awarded to two other Pulitzer-Prize winning authors, David Levering Lewis and Robert A. Caro; Nobel laureate and author Elie Wiesel; and Theodore C. Sorensen, a speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy.
Gordon-Reed joins 114 individuals and nine organizations on the list of illustrious honorees.