Feminist Scholar Award
The CSWE Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education annually awards a feminist scholar who has advanced feminist knowledge as it pertains to social work theory, research, practice, policy, and education.
2021 Feminist Scholar Award Recipient
Dr. Colita Nichols Fairfax is a professor in the Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, Robert C. Nusbaum Honors College Senior Faculty Fellow, and inaugural faculty scholar in the Center for African American Public Policy at Norfolk State University. She has written articles, reviews, chapters, and two books: Hampton, Virginia (2005) and Timeless History and Service: The Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., 1922 to Our Time (2017). She has edited two books, Social Work, Marriage and Ethnicity: Policy and Practice (2016) and The African Experience in Colonial Virginia: Essays on the 1619 Arrival and Legacy of Slavery (2021), and she wrote the foreword for A Guidebook to Virginia’s African American Historical Markers (2019). Dr. Fairfax earned the PhD and the MA in African American Studies from Temple University, the MSW from Rutgers University, and the BA in social work from Howard University.
As a professor, Fairfax forcefully challenges students to think critically about historical and social conditions, best cultural community practices, and the impact of social policy on the African American community in the historically Black college and university spirit of excellence and virtuosity. A specialty of her scholarship involves developing womanist historiographies about African American social reformers in the state of Virginia. Her knowledge production has unearthed data about Maggie Lena Walker, Ida Barbour, Virginia Randolph, Vivian Carter Mason, Willie Jones Dell, Janie Porter Barrett, and Mary Peake.
Dr. Fairfax was appointed to the city of Hampton’s 400th Commemorative Commission in 2010, where she contributed to documenting African American contributions on several historic markers and articulated how the African figure of the tricultural anniversary statute on Settlers Landing Road in Hampton should be depicted. She served as co-chairman of the city of Hampton’s 2019 Commemorative Commission, tasked with planning activities commemorating the arrival of African people in English North America, Point Comfort (present-day Hampton) in 1619. In 2013, with the late Dr. (Delegate) Mary Christian, she co-founded the Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation, Inc., tasked with restoring the state headquarters of the Virginia Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs founded in 1908. Dr. Fairfax is currently the foundation president.
Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Dr. Fairfax to the State Board of Historic Resources in 2016. She is in her second 4-year term, having served as vice-chair (2018–2019) and chair (2020–2021). Governor Ralph Northam reappointed her to that board and to the Commission for Historic Statues in the United States Capitol, tasked with removing and replacing the Robert E. Lee statue in the U.S. Capitol in 2020. She is a charter member of the Hampton Roads chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and Culture and a founding member of the Hampton Roads chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers. Since 2014 she has served as national chair and paramount instructor of the African-centered Certification Academy. Dr. Fairfax is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, CSWE Taskforce to Advance Anti-Racism, Social Work Journal Editorial Board, National Council of Negro Women–Hampton/Newport News Section. She is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., initiated at Howard University in 1987.