Mary Helen Washington was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. From 1975, when she was appointed Director of Black Studies at the University of Detroit, she has studied, taught, and written about African American literature. In addition to the University of Detroit, she has taught at St. John College of Cleveland, Harvard Divinity School, Wellesley College, Mills College, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and is currently Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Ph.D., University of Detroit, 1976
The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia University Press, 2014). The Other Blacklist explores the impact of the Left, the Communist Party, and the U.S. government spying operations on African American literature and culture during the Cold War. Focused on six major African American writers and artists of the 1950s, this study shows how their Left affiliations enabled them to shape an aesthetic that maintained traditions of race radicalism and literary experimentation.Reviews of The Other Blacklist:
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
Co-Chair, Sound+ Conference, 2014
Worldwise Featured Professor, 2012