Skip to main content

Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., awarded prestigious social justice honor

Karsonya Wise Whitehead

Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., founding executive director of the Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice and professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola, was presented the Rev. John LaFarge, S.J., Award for her contributions to the struggle for racial justice and commitment to advancing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Whitehead delivered the keynote address on Feb. 9, 2023, at Fairfield University’s MLK Convocation. 

“I am delighted to have been selected as the 2023 recipient of Fairfield University’s Rev. John LaFarge, S.J., Award for my social justice work and advocacy. I accept this award in the spirit of my mother, Bonnie Nix Wise, who always reminded me that our lives are meant to answer a question that the world has and it is up to us to find out the question and then work toward answering it through our life’s work,” Whitehead said.

Notable previous winners of the Rev. John LaFarge, S.J., Award include Dr. Ibram X Kendi, Nicole Hannah Jones, Dr. Angela Davis, and Hon. Shirley Chisholm. 

“When I read the list of notable and esteemed past recipients and saw that Shirley Chisholm received the LaFarge Award in 1999 and Angela Davis received it in 2017, I was both humbled and deeply grateful to have my name included with theirs," Whitehead said. "They are the barometers of Black feminist scholarship, courageous love, compassionate accountability and responsibility that I used to guide my work and challenge me."

Dr. Whitehead is also the host of the award-winning radio show “Today with Dr. Kaye” on WEAA, 88.9 FM, and an op-ed columnist for the “Afro” newspaper. The Karson Institute is committed to using race and peace to intentionally work toward social justice.