Njideka Crosby, Cristina Jiménez Moreta and More Changemakers of Color Win MacArthur Fellowships

By Sameer Rao Oct 11, 2017

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation features 11 creators, academics and social justice leaders of color in its 2017 class of MacArthur fellows. 

The foundation announced this year’s 24 fellowship recipients, colloquially referred to as "Geniuses," with a series of video and text profiles on its website today (October 11). NPR reports that the fellowship, which honors creativity and innovation across disciplines, grants each honoree $625,000 in no-strings-attached funding over five years. 

We present this list of 2017 grantees of color with descriptions and video profiles from the foundation’s website: 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a painter based in Los Angeles, California: “Visualizing the complexities of globalization and transnational identity in works that layer paint, photographic imagery, prints and collage elements."

Sunil Amrith, a historian based in Cambridge, Massachusetts: “Illustrating the role of centuries of transnational migration in the present-day social and cultural dynamics of South and Southeast Asia."

Dawoud Bey, a photographer based in Chicago, Illinois: “Using an expansive approach to photography that creates new spaces of engagement within cultural institutions, making them more meaningful to and representative of the communities in which they are situated."

Jason De León, an anthropologist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan: “Combining ethnographic, forensic and archaeological evidence to bring to light the human consequences of immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border."

Rhiannon Giddens, a singer and musician based in Greensboro, North Carolina: “Reclaiming African-American contributions to folk and country music and bringing to light new connections between music from the past and the present."


Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist based in New York, New York: “Chronicling the persistence of racial segregation in American society, particularly in education, and reshaping national conversations around education reform."

Cristina Jiménez Moreta, an immigrant justice organizer based in Washington, D.C.: “Changing public perceptions of immigrant youth and playing a critical role in shaping the debate around immigration policy."

Rami Nashashibi, community organizer based in Chicago, Illinois: “Confronting the challenges of poverty and disinvestment in urban communities through a Muslim-led civic engagement effort that bridges race, class and religion."

Viet Thanh Nguyen, an author and critic based in Los Angeles, California: “Challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced."

Tyshawn Sorey, a musician and educator based in Middletown, Connecticut: “Assimilating and transforming ideas from a broad spectrum of musical idioms and defying distinctions between genres, composition and improvisation in a singular expression of contemporary music."

Jesmyn Ward, an author based in New Orleans, Louisiana: “Exploring the enduring bonds of community and familial love among poor African Americans of the rural South against a landscape of circumscribed possibilities and lost potential."

Visit MacFound.org for the full list of this year’s fellows.