Elijah Heyward III ‘07 M.A.R.

2021Lux et Veritas

The Lux et Veritas is awarded for excellence and distinction in applying the compassion of Christ to the diverse needs of the human condition through the wider church, ecumenical organizations, not-for-profit groups, government, or industry. 

Elijah Heyward III embodies the spirit of the Lux et Veritas award. He has the heart of an educator and the soul of an artist, and both have been evident in his efforts within the YDS community and beyond.

He has been a guiding force behind the conception and construction of the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C., which will open next year.

The museum will highlight the impact of Africans in America – their contributions to the arts, intellectual life, and the human spirit – despite the cruel history of slavery.

Dr. Heyward’s talent for curation, scholarship, fundraising, administration, cultural preservation, mentorship, and advocacy of themes of African American experience, history, and justice was crucial to making the project a reality.

Born in Beaufort, S.C., Elijah holds degrees from Hampton University and YDS and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of North Carolina. 

While at Yale, Elijah embraced the idea of service. He was part of the student council, curriculum committee, and admissions committee, in addition to serving as co-chair of the Black graduate network. He was also a founder of the annual Yale Black Seminarians reception during convocation.

Elijah received a Yale President’s Public Service Fellowship for a program he founded called the Youth Scholar Academy, which prepares disadvantaged young men for high school, college, and beyond.

As an alum, he gave YDS invaluable help at a crucial moment in its history and its reckoning with racial prejudice. 

In 2017, Dr. Heyward advised the School on how to commission a portrait of James W. C. Pennington, the first Black person to attend YDS classes, studying under severe campus restrictions in the 1830s. He advocated for the style of the portrait and spearheaded the selection of the artist, Jas Knight. 

In 2018, when the portrait was unveiled in the Common Room to great applause, Dr. Heyward was heard to say, “For me, knowing that James Pennington was who he was — the first African American to attend Yale who went on to do so many amazing things in the world — it means that maybe I can do the same thing.”