The Mary Helen Washington Writing Award, funded by the Lillian and Don Bauder Fund, was inaugurated in April 2011 to support the writing of Detroit college and high school students. The award is conferred every year at the Marygrove College Literary Weekend in Detroit, Michigan.
UCLA, Institute for American Culture, Fellowship, July 2000-July 2001.
University of Maryland, Graduate Research Board, Distinguished Faculty Research Fellowship, 1998-99.
American Studies Association, President, 1996-1997
Lyndhurst Prize, 1994-1996
Doctor of Humane Letters, Bridgewater State College, May 1994
Doctor of Humane Letters, Emmanuel College, Boston, May 1992
Doctor of Humane Letters, Notre Dame College, May 1991
Doctor of Humane Letters, Regis College, May 1989
Doctor of Humane Letters, Marygrove College, May 1981
The Candace Award, for one of the 100 outstanding black women of 1988, presented by the Coalition of 100 Black Women, 1988.
Chancellor's Distinguished Scholarship Award, University of Massachusetts- Boston, September 1988
Research Associate and Visiting Lecturer, Harvard Divinity School, 1987-1988
Zora Neale Hurston Creative Scholarship Award, October 1986
Research Fellow, Wellesley Center for Research on Women, 1982
Mary Ingraham Bunting Fellowship, Harvard University, 1979-1980
The Richard Wright Award for Literary Criticism, Black World, January 1974