History Department
History Department

Professor Juliet E.K. Walker awarded Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion

Wed, October 13, 2010
Professor Juliet E.K. Walker awarded Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion
Prof. Juliet E.K. Walker

Walker received the award for her contributions to the field of African-American life and history. The award, established in 1993, is presented to a scholar whose career is distinguished through at least a decade of research, writing, and activism in the field of African-American life and history.  

The recipient’s career should embody and personify the Carter G. Woodson legacy, who founded the association, to ensure a firm foundation for the continuance of African-centered education through dedication and commitment to African-American history.

Dr. Woodson devoted his entire life and resources to chronicling African-American history and the recipient must have continued his tradition of correcting the deficiencies in American history where African American history is misinterpreted or distorted. The person selected must be a trained historian and an active participant in the scholarly work of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The award is presented annually.

Walker received the honor during the 95th annual meeting of the ASALH in Raleigh, N.C.  Oct. 2, 2010. The ASALH was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1915 considered as the "father of black history." He launched publication of the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History) in 1916 and established Negro History Week in 1926 (expanded to Black History Month in 1976). Woodson also  authored some 18 books.

The ASALH inaugurated the Woodson Scholars Medallion in 1993. ASALH President,  James Stewart (Pennsylvania State) noted that previous recipients of the Woodson Medallion include distinguished historians, Benjamin Quarles, John Hope Franklin, Dr. Nell Painter (Princeton), Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (Harvard), Dr. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (Morgan State) and  Dr. Robert Harris (Cornell).   

Walker, a University of Chicago Ph.D., where Dr. John Hope Franklin was her dissertation advisor, with postdoctoral work at Harvard University Du Bois Institute. At The University of Texas, she is the IC2 Institute Jack D. Wrather, Jr. Centennial Fellow and a former Walter Prescott Web Chair Fellow. Also, she is Founding Director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CBBH),  the only University or private center or foundation that focuses on Black Business History. Her CBBH established the Texas Black Business Hall of Fame.

Walker, a Faculty Affiliate with the Warfield Center of African and African American Studies and the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, has taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa under a Senior Fulbright Fellowship.

In presenting the Woodson Medallion, Dr. David Dennard, (East Carolina University) Chair of the Award Committee said: “Dr. Walker is considered the foremost scholar in Black Business History. Her publications are recognized as providing the foundation for establishing Black Business history as a sub-field in African American history.” 

She is author of the award-winning book, The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship (1998), the first and only comprehensive scholarly study of African American business activities from pre-colonial African origins to the present remains the only scholarly source that provides a detailed study of the continuity, diversity, and multiplicity of independent self-help economic activities among African Americans.

The new 2nd edition divides the original work into two volumes. The first, The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship, Volume 1, to 1865, published in 2009, covers African American business history through the end of the Civil War and features the first comprehensive account of black business during the Civil War.  Noted Choice,, "A richly detailed, sweeping examination of black business from pre-colonial Africa to the  conclusion of the Civil War.... Highly recommended."

The second volume, spanning from the end of the Civil War to the twenty-first century, will be published in spring 2011. Walker is also editor of the Encyclopedia of African American Business History and author of some ninety published articles, essays and encyclopedia entries. 

Dr. Dennard noted that Walker has won 12 publication awards for her books and articles, including  a   1984 Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH)  Brown Publication Award for Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier,  the 1988  Woodson Award for Best Article, "Pioneer Slave Entrepreneurship on the Kentucky Pennyroyal Frontier,” Journal of Negro History, 1983-1987, the 1987 ABWH Brown Publication Prize for the best article "Racism, Slavery, and Free Enterprise: Black Entrepreneurship in the United States before the Civil War," published in the Harvard  Business History Review for 1986, which also won the 1987 Harvard Business School, Newcomen Prize for best article and the 1999 ABWH Brown Prize for best Book, The History of Black Business in America:  Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship.

Also, in pursuing her research in black business history, Walker has won numerous grants and fellowships including the Princeton University Davis International Fellowship and research support from Harvard University Du Bois Institute, The Berkshire Fellowship from the Bunting Institute and fellowships from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundation and the NEH in addition to an AHA  Beveridge Grant.  

A pioneer in comparative African Diaspora Studies on Black Business, since the 1980s, Walker has pursued research and presented papers on black/minority business cultures in Canberra, Australia, Hong Kong, Milan, Italy, Dakar, Senegal, Accra, Ghana and South Africa in Pretoria, Durban, Soweto and Johannesburg In 1995 she convened the first conference on African American and South African Black Business  at the University of Witwatersrand, WITS Business School. In 2010, on the invitation of the United States Department of State in Paris, Walker lectured on Black Business in  Paris and Lyon, France.

Also, she was consultant for The Museum of African American History Boston and Nantucket in collaboration with  the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for their “Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th Centuries” exhibit and for the Smithsonian, National Museum of American History  for a major new exhibition in 2013 on American innovation and economic change entitled American Enterprise.

Walker serves on the Advisory Council of the Chicago-based Economic Empowerment Experiment porject, launched to encourage black consumers to support Black Business. Also, she serves on the Texas NAACP Advisory Board for the "Texas NAACP History Project" and as Humanist Scholar for the "Mart, Texas Oral History Project." She also sits on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta-based National Black Herstory Task Force.

Walker has  served on the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland-based Race For Success Foundation and  on the Board of Directors of the Texas-based Minorities For Equality In Education, Liberty and Justice (MEELJ). She is also the Founder/Director of the Free Frank New Philadelphia Historic Preservation Foundation and also a Founding Member of the Black Chicago History Forum. 

Walker’s work in developing the field of Black Business History began with her first  book, Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier (1983,1995), which details the entrepreneurial activities of slave-born Frank (1777-1854), who used profits from his various enterprises to purchase sixteen family members from slavery, including himself over a forty-year period of time. Free Frank was also the first African American to legally plat a town, when he established New Philadelphia, Illinois in 1836. Free Frank was Walker’s great great grandfather.

Her seminal and comprehensive scholarship on Free Frank was recognized in the Congressional Record by then Congressman, now Senator, Richard Durbin who also supported the town’s site for approval as a National Historic Landmark, as did then Illinois Senator Barack Obama in October 2008, in a letter written just one week before he was elected President of the United States. 

In 2009, New Philadelphia's site was designated a National Historic Landmark. Fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this distinction Also, Illinois Senator Roland Burris has proposed that the town’s site become a National Park. Walker said, "My hope is the National Historic Landmark recognition for the town he founded will encourage greater interest in the history of black business in America."

Presently, Professor Walker is completing her manuscript, “Oprah Winfrey: An American Entrepreneur.”

Photo of Dr. Juliet E.K. Walker: Korey Howell

Related Links
Juliet E.K. Walker
Association for the Study of  African American Life and History
Free Frank New Philadelphia Illinois

Bookmark and Share