John Lee Johnson Excellence in Community Engagement and Activism Award

Nomination Form

John Lee Johnson (1941-2006) was a native of the Urbana-Champaign community. He was instrumental in creating the first Black Student Association (BSA) at the Urbana campus and helped to organize Project 500 bringing over 500 new African American students to UIUC. He was a fifteen-year member of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, a former member of the Champaign City Council and founding member of the People Poverty Board, an organization partnering the black community and the university to address social issues.


This award was established to honor the spirit of the contributions of John Lee Johnson to the Champaign-Urbana community. The purpose of the award is to recognize the outstanding service, leadership, and innovation of a UIUC faculty member for her or his engagement with the public to address critical societal needs affecting African Americans.


African American Studies core, zero-time, and affiliate faculty members and instructors who have demonstrated initiative and sustained commitment to public engagement activities and/or community activism. Peer, community, and self-nominations are accepted.

Public Engagement and Activism Activities

Examples of activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Assist community based organizations or groups with problem solving and/or providing structural support.
  • Produce scholarship or intellectual activities that help to inform public policy.
  • Create partnerships with organizations such as schools, local government units, neighborhood or community organizations, or public agencies around critical issues.
  • Organize ways for actively engaging students in communities and schools and link student classroom experiences with community involvement.
  • Provide leadership in public programming.
  • Innovation in individual or collective work in African American communities at the ground level.


To be considered for this award, a faculty member must demonstrate:

  • Sustained involvement in collective action and engagement with the public and/or external community organization(s).
  • Innovative ways of working for the well being of African American communities and their members.
  • Documented excellence in extending the principles and knowledge of African American/Black Studies.
  • Evidence of the impact of the collective work on the target audience(s).
  • Evidence of the impact on the scholarship, instruction and curriculum development, or national reputation of the faculty member.
  • Demonstrated commitment to integrating research and community interest in a holistic way.


Nominations must include:

  • Completed nomination form
  • Narrative summarizing the nominee’s work, the importance and influence of the work, and how the nominee fulfills the above stated criteria (no longer than 3 pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae

Selection Process

The application information is available online at and in African American Studies main office. Completed application material is due in the African American Studies main office at or before 5pm on March 30, 2018. The Awards Committee reviews the applications and makes a recommendation to African American Studies core faculty based on the above criteria. One faculty/instructor recipient is selected after careful consideration of the committee’s recommendation. The committee reserves the right not to give an award in any given year.


The award will be announced at a reception in late April. The recipient will receive a personalized award, recognition at the awards reception, and the recipient's name will be placed on a plaque displayed in the African American Studies conference room..

For More Information

Dr. Desiree Y. McMillion,, 217-333-7781
1201 W. Nevada St., MC143, Urbana, IL 61801

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