Impact Beyond the Pages
Southwest Philadelphia native Dr. Sheena Howard has left her mark on several industries from academics to writing and filmmaking. In 2014 she became the first Black woman to win an Eisner Awards for her first book Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (2013). The Eisner Awards are given for creative achievement in American Comic Books. The award has been considered the comic book equivalent of the Academy Awards.
Her comics often bring diversity to a space that is commonly occupied by white characters. According to CBC Canada, 86% of characters in the superhero genre are white and demons or other lifeforms are represented more than any minority. In 2017 she co-authored a comic book that featured a superhero with down syndrome. Her comic books give kids the opportunity to see themselves in characters when they aren’t usually represented.
In 2016 Dr Howard produced and wrote a documentary called Remixing Colorblind. The documentary takes a look at the education system and how it shapes our understanding of race and race relations. Remixing Colorblind explores these topics through conversations with faculty, administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and students throughout various institutions. Parts of the documentary were filmed at Lehigh University, Drexel University, and West Chatholic High School.
Dr Howard was the lead writer for Black Lives Have Always Mattered, a book that features 14 African American Philadelphian’s that had a major impact on the city. Some of the individuals in the book include Frederick Massiah, Cecil B. Moore, Dr. Ethan Allen, Rev. Leon Sullivan, Julian Abele, Alain Leroy Locke and Dr. Walter P. Lomax, Jr.. 5,000 copies of the books were donated to The Philadelphia School District so students will be able to learn more about African American history for years to come. The project is the first graphic novel about Black historical figures from Philadelphia. Anyone interested in reading the book can do so by visiting the Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, the library is free and open to the public.
Dr Howard has given back to her community and made Philadelphia proud. Proclamations are given to community members that are recognized by the mayor for significant achievements. Dr Howard has received a Proclamation from the City of Philadelphia twice for her literary work, social justice, and creative projects.