by Melanie Jongsma
CHICAGO, Ill. (May 4, 2021) – In a private event on Sunday, May 2, the Chicago Defender presented their 2021 Women of Excellence awards to 50 African American women. Among the honorees was Shanina M. Thomas, Adjunct Professor of African American Studies, History, and Social Sciences with City Colleges of Chicago. Selected from hundreds of nominations, Thomas joined an elite group of influential women recognized for positively affecting their communities.
“In my opinion,” said Thomas via email, “excellence is not an achievement; excellence is a direction.”
The Chicago Defender has a 116-year history of giving voice to the Black experience in America, and the annual Women of Excellence awards have continued that tradition since 2007. As the nomination page of the Defender’s website explains, the award “celebrates local African American women who inspire others through their vision and leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service. They are women who exemplify extraordinary stature, poise and grace.”
Normally the red-carpet event attracts nearly 1,000 attendees, this year’s in-person ceremony was a private, socially distanced event that featured correspondent Kenneth Sean Daly. A virtual celebration will be aired live on Facebook on Friday, May 21, at 6:00pm.