Four Blacks Are Among the 212 New Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. It has a membership of more than 4,000 scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines including all the natural sciences. Its membership includes at least 160 Nobel Prize winners and more than 50 winners of a Pulitzer Prize. AAAS conducts a wide range of studies on problems facing American society, it holds conferences and symposia, and it bestows a number of prestigious awards. The society publishes the highly regarded quarterly journal Daedelus.

This year, 212 new fellows were elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As in past years, the academy has not disclosed the racial makeup of the new members. But through an analysis of the new members list, JBHE has been able to determine that at least four of the 250 new members are black. The new African-American members are:

• David Hammons, a New York City-based artist;

• Edward P. Jones, a Washington, D.C.-based novelist and short story writer;

• B.B. King, one of the world’s great blues musicians; and

• Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African-American studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

All told, by JBHE’s count there are 84 blacks among the 4,000 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Thus, 2.1 percent of the membership is black.