LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – The African-American Female Professor Award Association held their 6th Annual Award Ceremony at Bay Path University on Friday. They celebrated their anniversary by honoring five African-American professors.

The recipients at Friday’s ceremony told 22News that it is an honor to be recognized, represented, and celebrated. As African-American women in academia they make up only 1% of full time faculty roles in the country.

“It kind of screams to the community, ‘hey we’re here, and in order for us to advance and expand we need to bring this community together!’,” said the Founder of the African-American Female Professor Association, Traci Talbert.

African-American women are virtually absent from the faculty at most universities, with 84% of white professors having those full time roles. And, people of color represent 6% while African-American women represent only 1%.

“I would like to take this honor on behalf of my community, and continue to pay it forward so young women could see me and my face, and also want to aspire to do the same thing that I’m doing,” expressed award recipient Dr. Arlela Bethel.

The African-American Female Professor Award is all about celebrating these trailblazers in their respective fields of academia.

Another African-American Female Professor Award recipient, Willajeane McLean told 22News, “I think representation is important and seeing is believing. My presence in the classroom lets people who have been underrepresented in the field of law realize, ‘yes I can do this.'”

The goal of the group is to recognize and celebrate African American female professors and encourage others to pursue advanced studies, ultimately changing the landscape of professors across higher education.

“We can be more than 2.1% we can actually raise that number and raise it successfully and raise it so people that get into professoriate and into academia are not by themselves,” said African-American Female Professor award recipient Whitney Battle Baptiste.

The African-American Female Professor Association hopes that their group continues to grow and recognize more professors throughout the country for their notable efforts.