On October 1, 2021, Indiana University unveiled a portrait of Martha Dawson, a pioneering researcher in the fields of elementary and multicultural education and a distinguished university professor and administrator.
The dedication ceremony was led by Lemuel W. Watson, IU’s associate vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs. Other speakers were Anastacia Morrone, dean of the school of education, Dawson’s grandson Imara Dawson, Dawson’s granddaughter Sarita Wilson Guffin, and artist Diana Porter.
Dawson earned her B.S. from Virginia State College in 1943, an M.S. in 1954, and an Ed.D. in 1956 from Indiana University Bloomington. Dawson went on to join the faculty of the Hampton Institute before returning to IU in 1970 to research the field of multicultural education by establishing a training program for teachers to work with diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups-theories and models that propelled her to the cutting edge of the multiculturalism movements in public education. Upon returning to Indiana and in recognition of her research stature, she became the first African American woman to receive tenure at Indiana University Bloomington.
In 1980, the Indiana University Alumni Association recognized her achievements by awarding her with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award.
The portrait was commissioned as part of the IU Bicentennial’s Bridging the Visibility Gap Initiative. The initiative, through research and advocacy, identifies women and underrepresented minorities in IU’s history and adds them to the historical narrative and the built environment.
With the Bicentennial celebration concluding in 2020, University Honors and Awards now administers the initiative and coordinated the portrait’s unveiling ceremony with the School of Education.
The portrait is a part of the “Women of Indiana University” art collection and will eventually hang in the IU School of Education’s Wendell W. Wright Building. The Davee Foundation also provided funds to support the creation of the portrait.
View a video of the unveiling ceremony here.