Performance Studies Ph.D. Alum Sikivu Hutchinson (Ph.D. '99) received the 2020 Harvard Humanist of the Year award.
Sikivu Hutchinson is an educator, author, playwright, director and short filmmaker with a background in gender and social justice youth leadership, professional development and training, as well as research on culturally responsive teaching, Black feminism, women of color feminism, sexual violence, humanism and atheism. As founder of the South L.A.-based Women's Leadership Project program for high school girls of color she has successfully assisted first generation, foster care, undocumented, and LGBTQ students of color go on to college and careers. Sikivu's books include Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (2003), Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), Humanists in the Hood: Unapologetically Black, Feminist, and Heretical (2020), and the novel White Nights, Black Paradise (2015), on Black women, Peoples Temple and the Jonestown massacre. She has contributed chapters to The Oxford Handbook of Secularism and Gender and Planning from Rutgers University. Her articles have been published in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, The Humanist Magazine and the L.A. Times. Her plays include Grinning Skull (Robey Theatre Festival, 2017), Narcolepsy, Inc (Hollywood Fringe Festival, 2018) and White Nights, Black Paradise (Hudson Theatre, 2018 and the Museum of the African Diaspora, 2020). In 2016, she was invited by the State Department to present her work to community-based organizations, educators and journalists in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Limpopo, South Africa. She is a recipient of Harvard's 2020 Humanist of the Year award and received a California Humanities Foundation award in 2019 to stage her play White Nights, Black Paradise.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) partnered with the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, to present HCH’s 2020 Humanist of the Year Award to three extraordinarily dedicated social justice leaders: Ijeoma Oluo, Sikivu Hutchinson, and Mandisa Thomas. The Humanist of the Year Award, created more than twenty-five years ago, recognizes community leaders whose lives and contributions to society exemplify the values of humanism. In such a chaotic year, the group felt it was particularly important to choose awardees whose leadership embodies the very best of humanism’s potential to inspire necessary social change in a polarized climate.