(CNN)The MacArthur Foundation announced its class of 2021 Tuesday that includes an anti-racist author, a civil rights activist and a computational virologist.
Colloquially known as the “genius grant,” MacArthur fellows are awarded a $625,000, no-strings-attached grant paid out over five years. Since 1981, 1,061 people have been named MacArthur Fellows, according to the foundation’s website. There are no restrictions on how the money is spent, the foundation said. Trio of Black female authors among 21 MacArthur Foundation 'genius grant' winners“As we emerge from the shadows of the past two years, this class of 25 Fellows helps us reimagine what’s possible,” said Cecilia Conrad, managing director of the MacArthur Fellows. “They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries. It happens in all fields of endeavor, among the relatively young and more seasoned, in Iowa and Puerto Rico.”One of the grant recipients is Ibram X. Kendi, author of 2019’s “How to Be an Antiracist,” and who was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2020. “Being named a 2021 #MacFellow is tremendous! Thank you to @macfound and my peers for this honor — for recognizing and supporting the work to create a just and equitable society,” Kendi tweeted Tuesday. “Feeling encouraged, excited, stunned, thankful. So many feelings! … It is the honor of a lifetime to join this illustrious community.” Read MoreDocumentary filmmaker Cristina Ibarra is among the 25 fellows. Ibarra is known for creating narratives about Latino families living in borderland communities, the MacArthur website said. Her latest film, “The Infiltrators,” tells the story of young immigrants who get arrested by Border Patrol and detained in a for-profit detention center, according to the movie’s summary on IMDb. The film was a collaboration with her partner, fellow filmmaker and MacArthur fellow, Alex Rivera.Desmond Meade, a Florida-based civil rights activist working to restore voting rights to citizens who were formerly incarcerated, is one of the fellows. “This is an amazing honor that I didn’t see coming, but now that it’s here, I hope that this recognition serves as an example of what can happen when one is committed to making our society better,” Meade said in a statement posted to Twitter. Here are the winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation 'genius grants'Trevor Bedford, a Seattle-based computational virologist who has been developing tools for tracking virus evolution, took a more somber tone when he found out he was a fellow. Bedford has been studying Covid-19 and tweeted in early 2020 — during the onset of the pandemic — that there had been an outbreak in Washington state that had not been detected for weeks. While Bedford said he was “honored and overwhelmed” being named a fellow, he tweeted Tuesday, “it’s difficult for me to sort out my feelings about these awards, as they are so intertwined with the pandemic.” “It feels perhaps uncomfortable to be professionally rewarded for doing something that felt like a moral imperative,” he said. “So many scientists, public health officials, health care workers, journalists and others have worked themselves bare during the pandemic. Though there’s still a long road in front of us, I’m confident that our collective effort will ultimately get COVID under control.”Here’s the full list of 2021 winners:Hanif Abdurraqib, music critic, essayist, and poetDaniel Alarcón, writer and radio producerMarcella Alsan, physician-economistTrevor Bedford, computational virologistReginald Dwayne Betts, poet and lawyerJordan Casteel, painterDon Mee Choi, poet and translatorIbrahim Cissé, biological physicistNicole Fleetwood, art historian and curatorCristina Ibarra, documentary filmmakerIbram X. Kendi, American historian and writerDaniel Lind-Ramos, sculptor and painterMonica Muñoz Martinez, public historian Desmond Meade, civil rights activistJoshua Miele, adaptive technology designerMichelle Monje, neuroscientist and neuro-oncologistSafiya Noble, internet studies and digital media scholarTaylor Perron, geomorphologistAlex Rivera, filmmaker and media artistLisa Schulte Moore, landscape ecologistJesse Shapiro, applied microeconomistJacqueline Stewart, film scholar, archivist, and curatorKeeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, historian and writerVictor J. Torres, microbiologistJawole Willa Jo Zollar, choreographer and dance entrepreneur