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  • Samin Sabah Islam

Black History Month: 3 champions of Economics

In honour of Black History Month, we take a closer look at 3 prominent economists who are paving a path of greatness in their respective fields.

WORLD LEADER - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Hers is a story of resilience and hope. Internationally known as Africa’s ‘Iron Lady’, former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has established a legacy for peace, justice, democratic rule, and access to healthcare among other significant influences. As the first women to lead an African nation, she not only inspired millions of women across the world, but also became a beacon of hope through her efforts to further women’s rights. President Sirleaf earned a BA in Economics from the Economics Institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and studied economics and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, earning a Master of Public Administration. Returning to her country, she served as the Minister of Finance but was forced into exile as the government was overthrown in a military coup. President Sirleaf struggled against the corrupt government of Charles Taylor and won the presidential election of 2005. Under her adept leadership, Liberia emerged from conflict and thrived as a nation economically, due to her efforts for debt relief, reducing corruption and spearheading women empowerment. In 2011, President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Tawakkol Karman and Leymah Gbowee “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

ACADEMIA - William Darity Jr.

His extensive work on inequality by race, class and ethnicity, schooling and the racial achievement gap, North-South theories of trade and development and the Atlantic slave trade, among other influential work has revolutionised our understanding of group-based inequality. William Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Centre on Social Equity at Duke University. In the most recent book he co-authored, titled From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, Darity Jr. offers a unique approach to narrow today’s racial wealth gap - implement reparations for descendants of enslaved people. He draws a roadmap to this solution that includes strategies such as support for education and entrepreneurial activities, allocation of resources to historically black colleges and universities, and direct payments to eligible individuals. Darity Jr. graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Brown University, spent one year studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science and earned a doctorate in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

JOURNALISM- Zeinab Badawi

Meet the women who asks the difficult questions. Best known for her work on programmes such as ‘Hard Talk’, and ‘Global Questions’, Badawi is a Sudanese-British international broadcaster who has interviewed several movers and shakers of the world economy. She brings to light dialogues about sensitive, yet pressing topics including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Holocaust and racial injustice, among others. She is currently the Chair of the Royal African Society, a patron of the BBC Media Action and a board member of the African Union Foundation. In 2018, she was awarded the President's Medal of the British Academy "for her contributions to international political journalism". Badawi studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at St Hilda's College, University of Oxford.

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