The Shelia Awards

The Tubman, Georgia’s largest museum of African American art, history & culture, presents the Shelia Award annually to extraordinary black women of achievement. Shelia is an Americanized mélange of Midwest African names meaning strength, beauty & courage.

Since its beginning days, the Tubman has consistently recognized heroes and heroines—those remarkable people who have taken risks both great and small to insure that freedom of opportunity is available to all, regardless of race, creed, color and religion. We believe it is a part of our mission to call attention to those whose extraordinary heroism puts them in harm’s way and who through their actions change so much for so many.

2006 Shelia Award Honoree
Dr. Patrica Bath

In 1975, Dr. Bath became the first African American woman surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, and the first woman faculty member at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute.  She co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in 1976, an organization whose mission is to “protect, preserve, and restore the gift of sight” for all persons, regardless of race, gender, age or income level.

In 1981, Dr. Bath conceived the invention that has made her famous – the Laserphaco Probe, a surgical tool that uses a laser to vaporize cataracts.  Dr. Bath received her first patent for the probe in 1988, followed by another in 1998.  She holds four U.S. patents for innovations related to the Laserphaco, and international patents from Japan, Canada and several countries in Europe.

2004 Shelia Award Honoree
Mrs. Charlayne Hunter-Gault

2002 Shelia Award Honoree
Mrs. Coretta Scott King

2000 Shelia Award Honoree
Tina McElroy Ansa, Writer

1999 Shelia Award Honoree
Maya Angelou, Writer

1997 Shelia Award Honoree
Alice Walker, Writer

1996 Shelia Award Honoree
Debbie Allen, Entertainer

1995 Shelia Award Honoree
Dr. Johnetta B.Cole, Educator