Scholars’ gift launches effort to endow Davis Prize

Author: Cushwa Center

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The Cushwa Center and the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) are pleased to announce receipt of a $5,000 leadership gift from Dr. Diane Batts Morrow and Dr. John H. Morrow Jr., Emerita and Emeritus Professors of History at the University of Georgia, in support of the Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., Prize.  

Launched in 2020 through a partnership between Cushwa and the ACHA, the annual Davis Prize supports a work in progress that promises to make significant contributions to the study of the Black Catholic experience. The prize celebrates the life and legacy of Father Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. (1930–2015), a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana and a widely respected lecturer, author, and archivist for the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. Since its inception, the prize has been awarded three times to scholars engaged in projects exploring African-descended Catholics in colonial Mexico, diplomatic relations with the Holy See in the Republic of Haiti, and Black Catholics in civil rights-era Atlanta.

Over her distinguished career, Dr. Batts Morrow has won renown as a trusted commentator on the Black Catholic experience, serving as the invited keynote speaker at the 2022 Conference on the History of Women Religious, delivering the 2011 Cushwa Center Lecture, featuring in the Rita Cassella Jones Annual Lecture Series at Fordham University’s Curran Center, and commemorating the First Annual Father Joseph M. Davis, S.M., Black Catholic History Month Observance at the University of Dayton. In a 2016 interview, Dr. Batts Morrow cited Father Davis’ landmark book, The History of Black Catholics in the United States (Crossroad, 1990), as the impetus for her own award-winning monograph Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828–1860 (UNC, 2002).   

The ACHA hopes this generous gift will catalyze additional giving to raise an endowment sufficient to support the prize in perpetuity. Anyone interested in contributing should contact Charles T. Strauss, ACHA Executive Secretary, at

This announcement appears in the spring 2023 issue of the American Catholic Studies Newsletter