2018 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award

Urban Affairs Association > UAA Community News > 2018 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award
Henry Louis Taylor, Jr.
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The Urban Affairs Association (UAA), the international professional association for urban scholars, researchers and public service professionals, convened its 48th Annual Conference in Toronto, Ontario, April 4-7, 2018. More than 1,000 participants, representing universities, research institutions, non-profit organizations, and public and private organizations/institutions from around the world met to discuss 21st century issues impacting urban populations and places. Conference participants represented institutions from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University served as the local sponsors for the event.

During the conference, awards were presented in recognition of outstanding scholarship and service. Among those honored was Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. (University at Buffalo). Taylor was awarded the 2018 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award.

The UAA-SAGE Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award was established to highlight field-based urban scholarship and promote the dissemination of work by activist urban scholars. The award is co-sponsored by SAGE Publishing and UAA. The inspiration for this award is the career of Dr. Marilyn J. Gittell, former Director of the Howard Samuels Center and Professor of Political Science at The Graduate School at City University of New York. Dr. Gittell was an outstanding scholar and a community activist who wrote seminal works on citizen participation, and was founding editor of Urban Affairs Quarterly, (now known as Urban Affairs Review). Thus, the award seeks to honor the contributions of a scholar whose research record shows a direct relationship between activism, scholarship and engagement with community(ies).

Award Committee Assessment:

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. is a Professor and the Founding Director of the Center for Urban Studies at the University at Buffalo. His contributions to scholar-activism have been long-standing and deep, delving into both international and local urban issues with a mastery of critical scholarship and a love of community. He conducted an unparalleled seventeen-year investigation into the details of daily life in Cuba, creating an antidote to the shallow and stereotypical images common to much of academic and mainstream writing about this country. He has received awards from universities for developing their community engagement work and awards from communities for connecting them to universities. Dr. Taylor has written and worked on urban planning, racial justice, and the history of African-Americans in industrialized cities. He has written opinion pieces in the mainstream press on topics ranging from school reform to solidarity between Black and Latino communities. He has written technical reports for Buffalo’s neighborhood development efforts and blogs on structural racism. He has authored or co-authored six books and dozens of journal articles. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Urban Affairs. Dr. Taylor fully embodies the connection between good scholarship and good activism and stands as a model for young academics hoping to make a difference the world. 

Award Committee:

Kitty Kelly Epstein, Committee Chair (Holy Names University and Fielding Graduate University), Anne Shlay (Georgia State University), Barbara Brown Wilson (University of Virginia), Megan Gilster (University of Iowa), and Travis Young (Pennsylvania State University)

Award Winner:

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. is a professor in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Taylor’s research explores the nexus between city building and racial and social class injustice. Within this conceptual scheme, he focuses on black urban history, underdeveloped neighborhoods, university-community relations, Cuban Studies and issues of racial and social justice. Taylor blends together his research and practical activities by engaging in neighborhood planning, community development, and racial justice activities. He has authored or co-authored five books and is completing a sixth, Exiled in Cuba: the Nehanda Isoke Abiodun Story (SUNY Press). Taylor has written dozens of articles, technical reports, blogs and op-eds. He is currently engaged in a study of gentrification, displacement and neighborhood change in Buffalo, with Robert M. Silverman and Li Yin. This project is part of a five-city initiative sponsored by the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicator Partnership. Taylor has received numerous awards for his work, including the University at Buffalo 2016 Excellence in Community Engagement Award; 2014 Urban Affairs Association Service Honor Roll, and the 2012 Lee Benson Activist Scholar Award from the University of Pennsylvania Netter Center for Community Partnerships.


The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) is the international professional organization for urban scholars, researchers, and public service providers. UAA is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life. Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, the UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world. UAA sponsors the Journal of Urban Affairs, a refereed annual journal, publishing manuscripts related to urban research and policy analysis of interest to both scholars and practitioners. UAA also sponsors Upsilon Sigma – The Urban Studies Honor Society, an international, multidisciplinary honor society dedicated to recognizing and encouraging excellence in scholarship, leadership, and engagement in urban studies and related fields. The Urban Affairs Association hosts a conference each spring in an urban center. The conference program features both topics of institutional concern and those related to urban issues.

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