Graduate school of arts and sciences

GSAS congratulates Yale ‘genius grant’ winners

Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences celebrates the MacArthur Foundation announcement of the 2021 ‘genius’ grants, no-string-attached awards to support the creative potential of inspiring individuals who bring beauty and understanding to society. This year’s awards emphasize contributions in the arena of racial equality and justice. We are deeply proud of the accomplishments of two of our talented scholars, one a current student and the other an alum.

Current PhD law student Reginald Dwayne Betts ’16JD is a poet, lawyer, and teacher focused on the rights and humanity of incarcerated people. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 2012, and since 2018 he has served as a member of Connecticut’s Criminal Justice Commission, which appoints state prosecutors. His writings are inspired by his personal experience with incarceration in his youth, and his legal training since. Among his published works are collections of poetry including Bastards of the Reagan Era (2015) and Shahid Reads His Own Palm (2010). He recently launched the nonprofit organization Freedom Reads to give incarcerated people access to literature and the infinite potential for dignity and opportunity it offers.

Monica Muñoz Martinez ’12PhD (American studies) is a public historian and a professor at the University of Texas, Austin. She is an award-winning scholar and author, as well as the cofounder of Refusing to Forget, a nonprofit that promotes awareness of the largely ignored history of racial violence along the US-Mexico border in the early twentieth century, which she recounted in her 2018 book The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in TexasDuring graduate school at Yale, she delved deeper into Texas border violence in an interdisciplinary way with professors such as Joanne Meyerowitz and Alicia Schmidt Camacho, and was a faculty fellow for the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration.  

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