Senior Wins History of Medicine Grant

Ani-ya Beasley
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Ani-ya Beasley

Ani-ya Beasley, a senior majoring in African and African American studies and history, has been awarded a $1,500 research grant from the Society of the History of Medicine and Health Professions to work in the collections of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences library in Little Rock. Beasley's research focuses on the Black community in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the 19th and early 20th century. She reveals their previously unexplored history as political and community leaders, bathhouse owners, attendants and patrons. 

Beasley is pursuing her project with mentorship from the director of the African and African American Studies program — Professor Najja Baptist — and history Professors Caree Banton, Mike Pierce, Trish Starks and Patrick Williams. She explains that, "The purpose of this research project was always to fill historical gaps in Arkansas history and to serve and impact the Hot Springs Black community, as well as Black Arkansans more broadly. It's a privilege to shed light on these untold stories that are long overdue for acknowledgment." 

Trish Starks, Distinguished Professor of history, enthused, "Beasley's research is groundbreaking. Hot Springs was one of the premier medical destinations of the last century, but no other scholar has revealed the amazing political and social vibrancy of the Black community and their integral role in the medical care provided there. Beasley is providing a new perspective and is getting lots of notice from other historians in the state."

This will be Beasley's second grant of the 2023-24 academic school year. In November of 2023, Beasley earned her first grant, the Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant through the Black History Commission of Arkansas and the Arkansas State Archives, for her research on the Black community and Hot Springs.

Beyond her work bringing the contributions of Black Arkansans to light, Beasley has served the university community as the head ambassador for African and African American studies; president of Sankofa, the RSO for African and African American studies; and community chair of the U of A Distinguished Lectures Committee.

Baptist noted, "Ani-ya Beasley is widely regarded as one of the best students the African and African American studies program has ever had due to her exceptional academic performance, unwavering dedication to the subject matter and profound impact on the community. Ani-ya's insightful contributions to class discussions, groundbreaking research projects and critical analyses of African American history and culture have consistently impressed both her peers and professors. Her passion for the subject shines through in every aspect of her work, demonstrating a deep understanding and appreciation for the complexities of the African and African American experience. Beyond her academic achievements, Ani-ya actively engages with the community through outreach programs, mentorship initiatives and advocacy work, embodying the principles of social justice and equity that are central to the African and African American Studies program. Her commitment to advancing knowledge, promoting diversity and fostering inclusivity makes her a standout student and a true asset to the program."

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