Professor Ibram Kendi, who joined the history department in fall 2015, accepts the 2016 National Book Award in New York at the annual National Book Foundation awards ceremony, November 17, 2016.

As is tradition, jurists make their final selection from five finalists the afternoon before the ceremony. The nonfiction prize went to Professor Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America . Here is what the jury had to say about Professor Kendi’s work.

Stamped from the Beginning turns our ideas of the term “racism” upside-down. Ibram Kendi writes as a thoughtful cultural historian, aware that he is challenging deeply held, often progressive assumptions. Using a masterful voyage through the history of U.S. political rhetoric, beginning with Cotton Mather and ending with hip-hop, he argues that even the most fervent anti-racists have been infected with that resilient virus. With his learning, he dares us to find a cure.

During his acceptance speech, Kendi said, “I just want to let everyone know that I spent years looking at the absolute worst of America. I never lost faith that the terror of racism would one day end; in the midst of the human ugliness of racism, there is the human beauty of the resistance to racism.”


Ibram Kendi is the only UF professor to win the National Book Award in nonfiction.

Professor Kendi attended the ceremony with his wife and their six-month-old daughter. Below, he poses with Cynthia Barnett (UF history MA, 2004), who was one of five jurists in the nonfiction category.