The William H. Watkins Award


Due Date: February 1, 2024

Chair: Kefferyln Brown, University of Texas, Austin

This award honors Dr. William H. Watkins and his commitment to freedom and self-determination through over 40 years of educational activism and scholarship focused on the lived experiences of the African diaspora in the United States. More specifically, Dr. Watkins’ illustrious career was a commitment to curriculum study, community/solidarity, socio-political and class issues, and culture in his activism/scholarship/mentorship. The recipient of this award exemplifies these qualities. Nominees can be academics, community activists, community educators, or K-12 educators.

Individuals may be nominated or self-nominated, simply by naming the individual to committee chair Jason Lukasik ( no later than February 1, 2023.

William H. Watkins Bio

William H. Watkins(October 19, 1946 – August 08, 2014), a “lifelong proletarian revolutionary intellectual” and wise, witty and wonderful person is known as Bill in academic circles and Billy by his friends and comrades. See  and film of Dr. Watkins:

Born in Harlem, NY and raised in Southcentral Los Angeles, Bill attended Los Angeles public schools and graduated from Dorsey High School (1964). He earned undergraduate degrees in political science: pre-law, Associates of Arts from Los Angeles City College (1968) and Bachelors of Arts from California State University at Los Angeles (1970). Relocating first to Brooklyn then on to Chicago, Bill took up graduate studies and began teaching high school. He completed a Masters of Education in Curriculum Theory (1979) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Policy Analysis/Education (1986) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bill joined the College of Education faculty and the Department of African American Studies at the University of Utah (1986-1995) and then University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Education (1995-2014). His specializations include sociology of curriculum, African American education, history of curriculum, and curriculum movements.

Professor Watkins’ honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award, Division B, American Educational Research Association (2011); The Mary Ann Raywid Award, the Society of Professors of Education (2011); and the Dean’s Merit Award, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago (2003). Bill was the editor of The Assault on Public Education: Confronting the Politics of Corporate School Reform (2012), Black Protest Thought and Education (2005), author of The White Architects of Black Education (2001) and lead editor of Race and Education (2001). In addition to his books and chapters, his publications appeared in the (Macmillan) Encyclopedia of EducationReview of Research in EducationJournal of Interdisciplinary EducationThe International Encyclopedia of EducationThe International Encyclopedia of Curriculum, the Harvard Educational ReviewEducational Theory, the Encyclopedia of African American EducationTeaching Education, and Teaching for Social Justice.

Bill loved to travel and did so extensively throughout Western & Eastern Europe, the (former) Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, India, the United Arab Emirates, the Caribbean, South America, Central America, (north) Vietnam, New Zealand, and East, West & South Africa. He presented his work throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Uganda, Japan, Australia, Thailand, and the Netherlands. Throughout his life, William H. Watkins was a seeker of truth and justice, a visionary and educator, a radical intellectual, and social justice activist.


Dr. Anthony Brown, University of Texas-Austin, 2023

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Dr. Joyce E. King, Georgia State University, 2022 

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2022 Committee Chair: Jason Lukasik, PhD

Dr. Theodorea Regina Berry,  University of Central Florida, 2021

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2021 Committee Chair: Carol Mullen, PhD

Dr. Carl Grant, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2019

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2019 Watkins Committee Chair, Carol A. Mullen, PhD

Dr. Barbara Ransby, 2018

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2018 Watkins Committee Chair, Francyne Huckaby, PhD

2017 – Dr. Wayne Au,  2017

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2017 Watkins Committee Chair, Francyne Huckaby, PhD

Dr. David Omotoso Stovall,  2016

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2016 Watkins Committee Chair, Francyne Huckaby, PhD

Dr. Carol Lee,  2015

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2015 Watkins Committee Chair, William Schubert, PhD