In The 2020 recipient of the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, Howard C. Stevenson, received the award on Nov. 18, 2021. The ceremony and subsequent residency, which took place from Nov. 17 to 18, had been postponed due to the pandemic. 

The Gittler Prize recognizes “outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions” to religious, ethnic and racial studies. Stevenson, who was named as the annual recipient in 2020, is a “nationally recognized clinical psychologist,” according to the webpage for the prize. He is known for his research on racial stress and trauma, and is currently the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He is also the executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Racial Empowerment Collective. Stevenson is director of the philanthropic organization Forward Promise, which “promotes a culture of health for boys and young men of color” and aims to help them heal from the “trauma of historical and present-day dehumanization, discrimination and colonization,” according to the organization. Stevenson also led two research projects studying mental health and racial literacy, and has authored the bestselling book “Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences That Make a Difference.”

The Gittler Prize was created by and named for the late Professor Joseph B. Gittler, and also named for his mother, Toby Gittler. The prize is awarded annually and each recipient receives a medal and a cash prize of $25,000. The ceremony includes a reception and a lecture given by the recipient. The residencies, which are typically two to three days, include meetings with students and faculty, class discussions, public talks and interviews.

At his ceremony, Stevenson gave a lecture entitled “Crops With No Plow: Racial Literacy as Antidote –– Not Cure –– to Racial Threat.” He discussed how to engage with others during encounters concerning race as opposed to avoiding the difficult conversations. The ceremony took place at Rapaporte Treasure Hall in the Goldfarb Library. 

For his residency, Stevenson visited three different classes to give guest lectures: The Police and Social Movements in American Politics, Global Justice and Societies in Transition and Purpose and Politics of Education, discussing topics such as public policy and human rights. He also participated in a conversation and a workshop on racial literacy, a form of anti-racist training, at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.