Marion Orr — 2019 Hanes Walton Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Hanes Walton, Jr. Career Award to Marion Orr at the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline.  The award recognizes a political scientist whose lifetime of distinguished scholarship has made significant contributions to our understanding of racial and ethnic politics and illuminates the conditions under which diversity and intergroup tolerance thrive in democratic societies. Dr. Hanes Walton Jr., for whom the award is named, served as APSA Vice President from 2012 to 2013. 

Marion Orr is the Frederick Lippitt Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science at Brown University.

Orr received his BA degree in political science from Savannah State University, his MA in political science from Atlanta University, and his Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland.  Orr’s research interests include American politics with a focus on African-American politics, Latino Politics, urban politics, and the politics of urban education.

He is the author of Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore (University Press of Kansas), which won the Policy Studies Organization’s Aaron Wildavsky Best Book, and coauthor of The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton University Press), a winner of the APSA Urban Politics Section’s best book award.  He is also the editor or co-editor of six books, including Latino Mayors: Political Change in the Post-Industrial City (Temple University Press).   He is currently writing The House of Diggs: The Untold Story of Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jr.’s Activist Leadership – From Emmett Till to Anti-Apartheid – And the Scandal that Nearly Erased a Legacy of Social Justice (University of North Carolina Press), the first full-length biography of Michigan’s first Black congressman.

Professor Orr has held a number of fellowships, including an appointment as Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellowship from the Ford Foundation.  Orr is a former Secretary of the APSA and served on the APSA executive council from 2003-2005.

Here is what the Award Committee had to say about their decision:

Since his arrival at Brown University, Dr. Orr has chaired the department, served as Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy, mentored undergraduate and graduate students across several disciplines – while authoring/editing seven books and numerous articles in journals ranging from political science, policy, education, and urban politics/affairs/studies.  We are pleased to add the APSA Hanes Walton, Jr. Career Award to this impressive list of longstanding service to the profession.

Professor Orr served as President of the APSA’s Organized Section on Urban Politics.  From 2000-2006 he was an elected member of the Governing Board of the Urban Affairs Association (UAA), an international organization devoted to the study of urban issues.  In 2005-2006 he served as Chair of UAA’s Governing Board. Dr. Orr has also served as a member of the executive councils of the American Political Science Association and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

In addition to Dr. Orr’s remarkable track record of teaching and mentoring undergraduates and graduate Ph.D. students at Brown University, he has also translated his scholarship into prestigious fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Brookings Institution, and the University of California at Berkeley, to name just a few.  His scholarship has been widely praised, cited, and the recipient of some of the discipline’s most prestigious awards including the Aaron Wildavsky Award, the American Political Science Association Urban Politics Section’s Best Book Award, the Miriam Mills Award, and the Rodney Higgins’ Best Paper Award.  This is not an exhaustive list of Professor Orr’s fellowships and awards.

As one of Dr. Orr’s former students and academic collaborators noted in his letter, “Yet, for all of his important scholarly contributions, perhaps Dr. Orr’s greatest contribution to the study of racial and ethnic politics has been his unrelenting commitment to the study of urban politics.  While many would-be urbanists have been discouraged by their mentors from pursuing careers as scholars of urban politics, Marion Orr has mentored a generation of urban scholars.  He has maintained that the understanding of racial and ethnic politics in the U.S. is impossible without an understanding of urban politics.”

His students, colleagues and recommenders praise Dr. Orr as an exceptional and supportive mentor, and as a devoted, inspiring and impactful teacher.  As one of his former students wrote, “Marion Orr has dedicated his career to mentoring undergraduate students, graduate students, and junior faculty.  I have been a beneficiary of his commitment to mentorship and advocacy. I would not be a political scientist [if not for] Marion Orr.”

Inspired by Dr. Walton’s instruction while an undergraduate student at Savannah State College (now university), we are grateful for Dr. Orr’s continued commitment to impactful research in American politics.  An entire generation of urban scholars already lauds Dr. Orr for his commitment to shaping and developing them and the next generation of scholars.  Orr’s mentorship has produced thinkers in a variety of subfields and academic citizens dedicated to the discipline of Political Science and the politics of community.

APSA could not reward achievement in political science without the generous donations we receive from members and friends. Your gift today will help APSA continue recognizing outstanding scholarship for years to come. To contribute to the Hanes Walton, Jr. Award fund, please visit