On Nov. 8, Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute will award the 2010 James Weldon Johnson Medals to seven individuals “whose achievements and service reflect a deep and unwavering commitment to civil and human rights,” according to an Emory release.
The medals will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Carter Center. The medals honor the legacy of Johnson, a writer, journalist, civil rights leader, musician and humanitarian.
The 2010 Johnson Medalists are (profiles provided by Emory):
• Lucy Cline Huie, for humanitarian service. An Emory alum, Huie is co-founder of HOPE, a civil rights project whose purpose was to desegregate public schools in Jonesboro, Ga., in the 1940s and 50s. Huie courageously defied the white supremacists of Jonesboro and Clayton County. Her archive documenting this period in Georgia’s civil rights history is in Emory’s Manuscript, Archive and Rare Book Library.
• Deborah E. Lipstadt, for humanitarian service. Lipstadt is Emory’s Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the Tam Institute. A courageous defender of the truth of the Holocaust, she is the author of the prize-winning “History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving.”
• Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, for civil rights. Lowery was vice president and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Lowery is the founder of the Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights at Clark Atlanta University, and was awarded the National Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
• Robert (Bob) P. Moses, for civil rights. Founder of The Algebra Project, Moses was a pivotal organizer for the civil rights movement as field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was director of SNCC’s Mississippi Project. He was a driving force behind the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 in organizing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the Mississippi regulars at the 1964 Democratic Convention.
• Justice Leah Ward Sears, for law. Sears is an Emory trustee and alumna, and a partner in the Atlanta law firm Schiff Hardin. She was appointed in 1992 by Gov. Zell Miller to Georgia’s Supreme Court, where she became the first woman, and the youngest person, to sit on the court. From 2005-2009 she served as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.
• The late Sondra K. Wilson, for humanitarian service. Wilson was a leading scholar of James Weldon Johnson and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Wilson was executor of the Estate of Grace Nail and James Weldon Johnson, and the founder of the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Foundation, which for more than a decade awarded the James Weldon Johnson Medal. (The Johnson Institute is now the custodian of the Johnson Medal.)
• Ambassador Andrew J. Young, for civil rights. The former mayor of Atlanta, Young was a congressman and a top aid to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He is the founding principal and co-chairman of Good Works International of Atlanta.
The Johnson Medal ceremony is one of the signature programs of the Johnson Institute, and is its principal fundraiser. Tickets are $30, and $20 for students. Advance tickets are available through the Emory Alumni Association.
The ceremony will be led by actress Regina Taylor and Rudolph P. Byrd, Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Johnson Institute. Each medal will be presented following a reading from Johnson’s works by special guests from Emory and Atlanta, including former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.
“The Johnson Medal Award Ceremony is an occasion when we may reclaim and reaffirm our commitment to the greatest social movement of the 20th century,” says Byrd, and offer the Emory and Atlanta community a chance to “pause to reflect upon our relationship to a living history that has provided us with a knowledge of our condition.”
On Nov. 9, the medalists will take part in a colloquium panel discussion on campus for undergraduate students. “Lessons Learned Along This Way” will be from noon to 1 p.m. in White Hall 208.