Student Award Honors Legacy of Lecturer Roberta Meek

The award, endowed by an anonymous alum, will be presented annually to a student who embodies the Africana Studies Program’s core tenet of intertwining scholarship and activism.

By: Megan Bungeroth ’07  Thursday, May 27, 2021 11:42 AM

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Lecturer of Media & Communication and Africana Studies Roberta Meek (left) receives the Toni Morrison Award from Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies and Co-Director of Africana Studies Emanuela Kucik at the February 2020 Celebration of Black Excellence Through the Ages. Photo by Kristi Morris of Littlewing Photography

As her final year of teaching approaches, the College is honoring Roberta Meek, who has woven education, activism and advocacy throughout her career, by celebrating students who share a commitment to those values with the Professor Roberta Meek Africana Studies Award.

Meek, a lecturer of media & communication and Africana studies, began teaching at Muhlenberg in 2009. She directed the Africana Studies Program from 2014 to 2019.

During her tenure, Meek has earned a reputation for pushing students to think outside the classroom when it comes to understanding African American history and how it intersects with social movements, race and media.

“The award is a direct reflection of the ways that Professor Meek’s classes and the work she does with her community remind us of the full humanity of Black people in a world that tries to dehumanize them,” says Emanuela Kucik, assistant professor of English and Africana studies and co-director of the Africana Studies Program.

The award—which was originally announced as a potential scholarship last February—has been endowed by an anonymous Muhlenberg alum. (Individuals wishing to honor Meek can make a gift toward the endowment here.) It will be presented annually to a student who embodies the Africana Studies Program’s core tenet of intertwining scholarship and activism, following the example of Meek, Kucik says.

Robin Riley-Casey, director of the Office of Multicultural Life, was spurred to establish the award after hearing students praise Meek for her “intellectually challenging and socially uplifting” classes, which inspired them to become more active and engaged citizens.

The recipient of the inaugural award, Giovanni Merrifield ’23, was chosen by the Office of Multicultural Life and the directors of the Africana Studies Program and was announced at the 2021 Honors Convocation.