MCLA Professor Frances Jones-Sneed to Receive Sarah A. Lewis Social Justice Award


NORTH ADAMS, MA - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has announced that history professor Frances Jones-Sneed, Ph.D., will receive the Sarah A. Lewis Social Justice Award at the Massachusetts Hall of Black Achievement (HOBA) at Bridgewater State University during the 23rd Annual Heritage Celebration on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Nominated for the honor by MCLA President Mary K. Grant, Jones-Sneed is a dedicated scholar whose significant contributions to historical work and research have garnered significant recognition and advanced the understanding of the contributions of African Americans in local and national history, according to Grant.

"Frances Jones-Sneed is a dedicated educator, a committed and engaged community member of the MCLA faculty, and an active champion of social justice in the community and across the region," Grant said. "She brings over 40 years of activism and scholarship to her work, and she is highly deserving of the Lewis award with its focus on those who promote and embrace diversity, inclusion and social justice."

Founded in 1987, HOBA's mission is to discover, detail and disclose the significant achievements and contributions of people of color, as well as to create new scholarly endeavors, institutional pursuits and to uplift and broaden social conscience.

According to Michael P. Henry, HOBA chairperson, Jones Sneed was selected to receive the award because she has worked tirelessly to promote social justice and education. "Her story is one of courage, perseverance and advocacy for women and those in marginalized communities. She recognizes and explores privilege, and has affinity and empathy for those who are not able to find their way in mainstream educational environments."

Henry continued, "She is a true activist, organizer, and worker for social change, as evident by her publications on the history of African Americans, and her work pioneering the first African American Heritage Trail in rural New England.  Through her research and work with the Women's Center, she has inspired numerous students and community members to promote social justice, by helping to turn lives around and reverse social breakdown."

Jones-Sneed has presented broadly in oral history, the role of place in shaping the history of African-Americans and women's history, all of which she brings into her classroom and into the community through her wide participation in community organizations, according to Grant.

Jones-Sneed is co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail Advisory Council. In this position, she helped to pioneer the first African American Heritage Trail in rural New England. She also serves in the Samuel Harris Society and the Friends of the Du Bois Homesite Committee. She has served on the board of Mass Humanities, the statewide foundation for the humanities.

Jones-Sneed has received numerous grants and fellowships in support of her research. This includes research support from the Ford Foundation, a posting as Scholar in Residence from the University of Oregon and an Aspen Institution Fellowship. She has received research support and recognition from MCLA, including an Outstanding Faculty Association Award in 1999, and a competitive Faculty Incentive Lecture Award for her research in 2010 on the anti-lynching movement in the United States.

She has published and presented extensively on oral history research, African Americans and their sense of place in the American West, African American women's clubs in Missouri and Washington State, and the Mississippi civil rights movement. Since arriving in the Berkshires, she has focused on the contributions of African-Americans to the region.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) many times has recognized Jones-Sneed, who participated in NEH summer seminars in 1993, 1996, 2002 and 2008. In 2005, she received a curriculum development award from NEH for her project, "The Shaping Role of Place in African American Biography.

In 2008, Jones-Sneed earned a Faculty Humanities Workshop grant for her work on the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, called "Of Migration and Renaissances: Harlem/NY and South Side/Chicago, 1915-75."

Both grants were designated by the NEH as "We the People" projects. Through her Faculty Humanities Workshop grant, Jones-Sneed led a project for more than 30 K-12 and community college teachers on how to integrate local history into their classes.

Jones-Sneed received another NEH grant in 2010 that will bring 25 professors from across the country to MCLA and Williams College to participate in a month-long seminar. The institute will provide the participants with the knowledge to learn how to find and use local history and archival materials to incorporate the lives and impacts of previously under-represented persons and groups into their teaching.

An active and leading member of MCLA's Diversity Task Force, Jones-Sneed inspires students to imagine what they might accomplish, and challenges them to use their knowledge and talent to achieve their goals, according to Grant.

In addition to leading the women's studies academic program, Jones-Sneed has served as the director of the Women's Center and continues to serve on the Center's board. In these roles, she has brought speakers and performers to MCLA, to ensure that students and the college community have access to a wide variety of feminist and women's perspectives, Grant said.

Jones-Sneed spearheaded a research project in 2001 through a student seminar that led to the rediscovery of the career and contributions of MCLA's first African-American graduate, Margaret A. Hart '35. Inspired by Hart's legacy, she has chaired the Margaret Hart Scholarship Committee, which annual raised funds to award a scholarship to one or more ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) student leaders.

Jones-Sneed has served as the editor of MCLA's peer-reviewed journal, "The Mind's Eye," since 2008.

Jones-Sneed has taught at the college level since 1970, at institutions including Loyola University Chicago, the University of Missouri in Columbia, Washington State University in Pullman and Williams College. She served as the interim director of the Black Studies Program and the director of Minority Graduate Affairs, both at the University of Missouri, and as the director of Programs for Women at Washington State University.

She came to MCLA in 1995 and was promoted to full professor in 2000. Jones-Sneed served as departmental chair of the Department of History, Geography and Political Science from 2001-04.