Some of the most inspiring stories today center around the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Especially true for people of minority or marginalized cultures, achieving recognition, whether in the arts, sciences, or literature, requires going above and beyond the social norms and expectations predetermined for them. In the case of Dr. Ian Hancock, we learn about a Romani who defied the expectations of not only his own culture, but that of the oppressive mainstream society in which he was raised.
Among his major accomplishments, Dr. Hancock was the first Romani in Britain to receive a PhD. He found his niche not only as an educator and scholar, but also as an activist for the recognition and rights of Romani throughout the world. He is the 1998 recipient of the Gamaliel Chair in Peace and Justice from the University of Wisconsin and the 1997 winner of Norway’s prestigious Rafto International Human Rights Prize, in addition to being named for an honorary doctorate by Umeå University in Sweden. He was also appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council by former president Bill Clinton.
Dr. Hancock has been credited for creating the first Romani program of university studies, which he initiated at The University of Texas at Austin, and honored with the university’s distinction as the leading U.S. center for studies of Romani history, language and culture.
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