Pam Grier, MC Lyte to Receive W.E.B. Dubois Medal

Pam Grier’s reign stamped the 1970’s era of exploitation films. Not only was she a total badass, but her in-your-face use of sexuality opened avenues to display social and political perspective through film . In addition, “Foxy Brown” paved the way for action heroines of color.


If any one of Grier’s “kick-butt” characters had to pretend to be “sweet” on a drug dealer or two-bit hustler, just to get back at the person responsible for bringing harm toward her or those whom she loved, she was down to do what needed to be done. Her contributions to the labeled “blaxploitation” era was powerful by her presence and messages embedded in the storyline.

For this, Grier is among a list of elite individuals who will be honored with Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Medal on October 6.

The prestigious honor recognizes those who have made significant contributions to African and African American history and culture.

The 2016 Harvard University recipients also include rapper MC Lyte, who uses her platform to inspire the next generation of artists, opera singer Jessye Norman, David Simon (The Wire) and the 1966 Texas Western Miners men’s basketball team, which made history as the first all-Black starting line-up to win an NCAA national championship.

Past recipients of the medal include Muhammad Ali, Oprah Winfrey and Toni Morrison.

The ceremony takes place on Oct. 6 at Harvard University during the fourth annual Hutchins Center Honors.