On October 21, 2020, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School honored its 2020 Cum Laude Society inductees with a virtual ceremony featuring a video from guest speaker and class of 2007 graduate, Dr. Anasa Hicks, professor of history at Florida State University.
Known as a fearless intellectual risk taker during her time at Cranbrook, Dr. Hicks today specializes in Latin American and Caribbean history with a special focus on Cuba. Hicks shared details of her professional path, which started when she earned a Morehead-Cain Scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina, intent on becoming a journalist after a successful tenure as editor of the Crane-Clarion at Cranbrook.
When tragedy stuck the University of North Carolina campus during her freshman year, Hicks realized that journalism was not her calling and instead turned her attention to history, where she could learn and share stories that had shaped societies past and present. Cuba and neighboring countries in the Caribbean and Latin America inspired her scholarly imagination after she traveled to the island nation to improve her command of Spanish.Read More
Cuba, she said, was nothing like what she expected, and it so unsettled her that she wanted nothing more than to return home. Once back in the states, however, she found she could not get Cuba off her mind. Soon, she was committed to learning everything she could about its history and the dual track it shared with the United States and the horrors of slavery.
Through her study of history, Hicks realized that “anything is possible.” It is a sentiment, she added, that can be taken in myriad ways, as “a promise. And a warning. And a call to political action.”
As professor, author and activist, Hicks focuses on issues of women and gender and labor studies. A McKnight Fellow, she is at work on a manuscript that explores questions of race, gender and ethnicity in relation to Cuba’s slave society past. She is also currently at work on a book examining the experiences of Cuban veterans of African wars. Hicks is a founding member of the Tallahassee Bail Fund, advocating for bail relief, prison abolition and racial justice. Following graduation from the University of North Carolina, Hicks attended New York University where she earned her master’s degree, received a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies and completed her PhD in 2017.
The 2020 Cum Laude Society event was hosted by 11th and 12th Grade Academic Dean Gail Chun, Upper School Head Noel Doherty and Director of Cultural Studies Carla Young.
As Anasa Hicks told her Cum Laude audience, “When people talk about the future leaders of this country, they’re talking about you. You’re really smart. Make sure you do something with that.” Because, as Hicks has said, “anything is possible.”