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Eric Holder and Nas with Harvard University’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Lawrence Bobo (NAS VIA INSTAGRAM)

A rapper, a boxer, and a former U.S. Attorney General were among those honored Sept. 30 with Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Medal, the highest honor in African-American studies.

For the last 15 years, Harvard University has honored influential Blacks who have contributed to African American culture and the “life of mind,” according to NBC News.

Marian Wright Edelman

This year, Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research honored rap artist Nas, former U.S Attorney general Eric Holder and boxing legend Muhammad Ali. In addition to those well-known figures, four well know females were also honored: Marian Wright Edelman, Mellody Hobson, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Carrie Mae Weems.

Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund. She has advocated for disadvantaged Americans for nearly 40 years, and under her leadership, the CDF has become the nation’s strongest advocate for children and families. Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School and became the first African American women to be admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1963. She began her career working as an attorney for the Educational Fund and the NAACP legal Defense Fund and defended many people during the Civil Rights Movement.

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson is a successful businesswoman and is the president of Ariel Investments, a Chicago investment firm that manages more than $10 billion dollars in assets. Hobson is a graduate of Princeton University and after graduation joined Ariel Investments as an intern. She worked her way up to become the current vice president and director of marketing.  She has been nationally respected for her knowledge of financial literacy and investor education. She has served as an analyst for finance for CBS News and contributes weekly money tips to the Tom Joyner Moring Show. Time magazine listed Hobson as one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.  Hobson is also the wife of movie mogul George Lucas, of ‘Star Wars’ fame.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an award-winning journalist and holds a place in Georgia Civil Rights history. She was one of the first two African-American students admitted to the University of Georgia. At Georgia, Hunter-Gault experienced discrimination, and even was temporarily suspended for her own safety. She went on to a successful media career, with stints at NPR, CNN and The New York Times. In 2001, the building in which Hunter-Gault first tried to register as a student was named the Holmes-Hunter building in honor of her.

Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems is an award-winning artist best known for creating installations that combine audio, text and photography to look at the facets of contemporary American life. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of Arts, obtained a master’s degree from the University of California, San Diego and a second master’s degree from the University of California, Berkley. She is the recipient of numerous awards, and was named photographer of the year by the Friends of Photography. In 2013, she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grant.

jhunter@afro.com

Twitter: @hunter_jonathan