Boston Public Library Recognizes Ibram X. Kendi and Bank of America for their Contributions to Advancing Equity

The Bates Medal Award honors champions who advance social equality and stimulate economic progress

BOSTON, November 1, 2022The Boston Public Library (BPL) awarded the Bates Medal to Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director and Founder of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, and Bank of America, with Mr. Miceal Chamberlain, Managing Director and Massachusetts President of Bank of America, accepting, at a ceremony at the Central Library in Copley Square.   

“The Bates Medal is named for Joshua Bates, who provided the initial funding for the BPL’s collections because he believed that all people should have equal access to the resources they need to enrich their lives,” said David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library.  “Both Dr. Kendi and Mr. Chamberlain exemplify this commitment to build a world where racial equity, economic opportunity, and social justice prevail. This award speaks to their leadership in following Bates’ footsteps, developing resources – both scholarly and financial -- that expand opportunities for all.”   

Ibram X. Kendi is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and historian of racism and antiracism in America. As BU’s Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, he uses his role to inform and transform our society through his relentless and passionate commitment to building an antiracist future. Through his six books for adults and five books for children, he has helped open the eyes of America to the reality and persistence of racist ideas and policies today.  

“I am honored to receive the Bates Medal,” Dr. Kendi said. “At a time when the collections at public libraries are being restricted and cut back, I accept this medal of behalf of all the librarians around the country fighting to expand literary opportunities like Joshua Bates.” 

As Bank of America’s Managing Director and Massachusetts President, Miceal Chamberlain embodies the spirit of expanding access to the Boston Public Library and increasing opportunities to all. Under his leadership, the Bank’s role as a true corporate citizen expanded and the partnership with the Library has provided just over $1,000,000 in philanthropic commitments. Support from the Bank funded cultural opportunities, expanded access to the art and architecture of the Central Library’s McKim Building, and addressed early literacy programs and capital renovations.  

“The Boston Public Library is a treasured resource that brings together people from all walks of life, with all kinds of goals, and helps them gain the knowledge and skills they need,” said Chamberlain. “Working together across the public and private sector is critical to driving positive change, and we are lucky that this ‘palace for the people’ is here in Boston, working to build a brighter future for our community and beyond.”  



About the Bates Medal

The Bates Medal honors those who have distinguished themselves as champions for the advancement of learning, and who have helped develop critical resources that ensure all citizens may better and more easily acquire knowledge. The Medal signifies the belief of Boston Public Library founder, Joshua Bates, that the education of people of all backgrounds would increase social equality and stimulate economic progress. 

The Medal is named after Joshua Bates, the idealistic benefactor of the Boston Public Library’s collection. Bates, who grew up without a public library, transformed his personal gratitude for “the many acts of confidence and kindness” that he received in the course of his education in the city of Boston into the Library’s first collection.  

About the Boston Public Library 

Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room.  

The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services.   

The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public.      

The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit, opens a new window.

About the Boston Public Library Fund  

The mission of the Boston Public Library Fund is to provide financial support to the Boston Public Library, ensuring that it remains viable, engaging, accessible, and free to all. The Fund fulfills this mission by working in partnership with the Library, donors, and other funders in supporting BPL programs and special initiatives. Support from the Fund supplements, but does not supplant, other BPL resources, including City of Boston funding.