2023 Stowe Prize Winner Announced!


For immediate release:

February 24, 2023


  • The 2023 Stowe Prize is awarded to Dr. Ruha Benjamin, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University, for her book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want


  • Major celebrations are planned to be held at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center: Thursday, September 21 – a fundraising event; Friday, September 22 will be a free public event.


  • The Stowe Center will have a variety of public programs leading up to, and post the award events in September. Check the Stowe Center website calendar and join the Stowe Center E-Blast for full details and updates.



Hartford (CT)— The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center announces the 2023 Stowe Prize Winner: Dr. Ruha Benjamin for her book Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want.  “I feel incredibly honored and humbled that Viral Justice has been awarded the 2023 Stowe Prize,” Dr. Benjamin writes.


“In her book Viral Justice Ruha Benjamin calls to each and all of us to reckon honestly with the many injustices that shape our world and work with others to make positive change,” said Karen Fisk, Executive Director of the Stowe Center. “Like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Dr. Benjamin writes to prompt action. Viral Justice is a revelation of hope— if social inequities rely on our individual complicity to maintain harmful systems then social justice requires individuals to participate. We can’t wait for top-down change. Even seemingly small actions add up!  We are so honored to invite Dr. Benjamin to share her message with us.”


This year, in 2023, our Stowe Prize Committee sorted through over 90 individually nominated books. Amy Hufnagel, Director of Programs & Visitor Experience who runs the Stowe Prize Panel annually says, “Working with the Stowe Prize Panel of nine members of our community and board of directors is a truly inspiring process. The panel is so thorough, thoughtful and respectful. The Prize starts with crowdsourcing; anyone, anywhere, can nominate a book for consideration. From this democratic and open beginning, the competition becomes even more focused and intentional.  They have, yet again, pulled forward an author and a book with a strong social justice message showing how individuals can be inspired to make change.”


Jeffrey Ogbar, Chair of the Stowe Prize Committee, said “This year’s recipient of the award, Ruha Benjamin’s Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want (Princeton University Press, 2022), represents the best of socially and politically impactful writing. It offers a critical eye to not only identify social problems, but it also provides a hopeful path forward. The book deftly seeks to broaden our understanding of gross inequities in health, criminal justice and more, while inspiring us to action with prescriptions for a more just world. Well written and compelling in its honesty and personal narrative, Viral Justice is a remarkable text that squarely falls into a Stowe tradition of writing.”


About Dr. Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin is an internationally recognized writer, speaker, and professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she is the founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab. She is the award-winning author of Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code and editor of Captivating Technology, among many other publications. Her work has been featured widely in the media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, The Root, and The Guardian.


About the Stowe Prize

The Stowe Prize recognizes the author of a distinguished book of general adult fiction or nonfiction whose written work illuminates a critical social justice issue in the tradition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The winning book applies informed inquiry, is accessible and engaging to a wide audience, and promotes empathy and understanding. In creating this award, the Stowe Center recognizes the value of diversity to strengthen our communities. Benjamin is the ninth recipient of the Stowe Prize, following Dr. Clint Smith in 2022 for How the Word Is Passed, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. in 2021 for Begin Again, Albert Woodfox in 2020 for Solitary, Matthew Desmond in 2018 for Evicted, Bryan Stevenson in 2017 for Just Mercy, Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2015 for The Case for Reparations, Michelle Alexander in 2013 for The New Jim Crow, and Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in 2011 for Half the Sky.



About Dr. Ruha Benjamin and Viral Justice

“This is an openhearted, multilayered work that vibrates with ideas on ways to make a new world out of the interlocking crises of COVID-19 and racial capitalism. Progress may be a ‘tear-soaked mirage,’ as Benjamin writes, yet her book is far from devoid of a sense of humor or hope, full of ways to ‘live poetically’ while remaking the systems that have failed us.”

—New York Magazine


“Heartbreaking, inspiring, and hopeful… Benjamin’s approach is undoubtedly radical.”

—James M. Jones, Science


“A powerful, urgent plea for individual responsibility in an unjust world.”

—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


“An emotional and thought-provoking wake-up shout to put an end to systemic discrimination… [and] a rich and engaging space for collective healing.”

—Library Journal


“Compelling… The final pages of Benjamin’s Viral Justice are a testament to human resilience, to finding meaning in little acts, imbuing beauty in the mundane, and growing a garden from a seed.”

—Mehr Tarar, Stanford Social Innovation Review


“There’s no one better to light the way out and guide us in building a just future than Ruha Benjamin.”

—Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine




The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a museum, research library/archive, and program center in Hartford, Connecticut. The Stowe Center’s mission is to preserve and interpret Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promote vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspire commitment to social justice and positive change. For general information and updates, please visit www.HarrietBeecherStoweCenter.org.


CONTACT: Christina Tom

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

860.522.9258 x305 | ctom@stowecenter.org