Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, was named as the winner of the 2021 Lewis Award for History and Social Justice given by the American Historical Association.
The prize is offered annually to recognize a historian for leadership and sustained engagement at the intersection of historical work, public culture, and social justice. The prize is named in memory of John Lewis, the civil rights icon who represented Georgia in the United States House of Representatives for 34 years.
Professor Berry has had a distinguished career in public service. From 1980 to 2004, she was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and from 1993-2004 served as chair. Between 1977 and 1980, Dr. Berry served as the assistant secretary for education in what was the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1987, Dr. Berry served as provost at the University of Maryland and chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder.
Dr. Berry is the author or co-author of 12 books including Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy (Beacon Press, 2016), Power in Words: The Stories Behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, From the State House to the White House (Beacon Press, 2010), and And Justice for All: The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Struggle for Freedom in America (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009).
Dr. Berry is a graduate of Howard University and earned a law degree and a Ph.D. in history at the University of Michigan.