Williams names two Gaius Charles Bolin Fellows for 2023-25, honoring the legacy of Williams’ first Black graduate and promoting faculty diversity.

Named in honor of Williams College’s first Black graduate, who was admitted to Williams in 1885, the college awards its Gaius Charles Bolin Fellowships to graduate students from underrepresented groups who are completing their terminal degrees and interested in pursuing a career in college teaching.

Bolin was an active and influential member of his class who went on to a successful career as a lawyer in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He also was a founding member of the local branch of the NAACP, and was the first African American president of the Dutchess County Bar Association. 

These two-year residential fellowships were established in 1985 to honor Gaius Bolin’s legacy and promote diversity on college faculties. Two scholars or artists are appointed each year. Fellows devote the bulk of the first year to the completion of dissertation work—or in the case of M.F.A. applicants, building their professional portfolios—while also teaching one course as a faculty member in one of the college’s academic departments or programs. The second year of residency is spent on academic career development while again teaching just one course.

The Gaius Charles Bolin Fellows for 2023-2025 are:

Da’Von Boyd, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in political science. Boyd is a Ph.D. candidate in political science and African American studies at Yale University, and has an B.A. from Morehouse College. His research focuses on the political phenomenology of religion in liberation movements as it sits at the nexus of historical political theory, African American studies, epistemology, theology and social movement theory. His dissertation “The Black Spirit: A Theoretical Account of Black Political Theology in the Civil Rights Movement,” examines the political theories of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Nation of Islam and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and offers a theoretical and historical account of Black political theology in constructing the philosophical, ethical and political design of the civil rights movement. Boyd is the recipient of several teaching awards, as well as the Alex Willingham Best Political Theory Paper Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

René Cordero, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in history. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Harlem, NYC, Cordero is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, and has a B.A. and an M.A. from City College of New York (CUNY). His research, which has been funded by the Fulbright scholarship and the Citizens and Scholars Dissertation Writing Fellowship, examines the rise of anti-racist and anti-authoritarian activism in the Dominican Republic during the 1960s and ’70s. Using unexplored material from the Dominican student movement, his dissertation, “Reimagining Political Futures: Youth Activism, Student Politics, and the Rise of Anti-Racism in the Dominican Republic, 1937-1978,” inserts a Dominican context into studies of youth and student activism during the broadly transgressive 1960s. He demonstrates that the unique racial, geographical and political trajectory of the Dominican Republic contributes an essential chapter to how we should write the history of Afro-Latin America. Cordero is also the coordinator, under the directorship of professor James Green, of the Dominican section of Opening the Archives-DR, an online archive housed at the Brown Library that documents U.S.-Dominican relations during the Cold War.

Boyd and Cordero will be joining our two current Bolin Fellows, Shivani Radhakrishnan, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in philosophy, and Kamal Abdul Kariem, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in German and Russian.

Published March 15, 2023