Unity Awards 2016

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Above, from left: Luis Lazo-Silva, Edgar Morales, NiOT co-chair Larry Spruill, Shirley Satterfield, Sumaiyya Stephens, NiOT co-chair Linda Oppenheim, and Sophia Vargas.

Not in Our Town Princeton honored eight  high school students at the annual Unity Award ceremony and reception on June 5 at Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center. All the students received certificates and cash awards for their being role models in their efforts to promote respect for diversity and advance the cause of race relations. Four (above) were seniors from Princeton High School. For what was read, click on the name: Sophia Vargas, Sumaaya Stephens, Edgar Morales, and Luis Lazo-Silva.

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Above, from left: NiOT board members Wilma Solomon and Shirley Satterfield, NiOT co-chair Larry Spruill, awardees Ziad Ahmed, Jamaica Ponder, Priya Vulchi, Winona Guo, and NiOT co-chair Linda Oppenheim.


PHS junior Jamaica Ponder, was honored as an “Upstander” for sounding an alarm Three youth members of NiOT’s board were honored. Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi, juniors at PHS, co-founded CHOOSE,, a student group that helps classroom teachers to comfortably and honestly facilitate discussions of race and culture.  The third board member, Ziad Ahmed, a junior at Princeton Day School, founded redefy, a national organization that attempts to defy seemingly unchangeable stereotypes. These three had also received the national award, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations.

They also received certificates from the office of Bonnie Watson Coleman. Below, from left, Ponder, Morales, Guo, Vulchi, Ahmed, Lazo-Silva, Stephens, Varga, and Reed.

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Calvin C. Reed, far right, presented certificates  from U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman to each of the students.


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Some of the current and former board members of NiOT, from left: Ted Fetter, Shirley Satterfield, Fern Spruill, Shelley Krause.  Joyce Trotman-Jordan, Simona Brickers, Marietta Taylor, Susanne Lee, and Larry Spruill.

4 Comments on “Unity Awards 2016

  1. This comment is from Shirley Satterfield: Many thanks to Linda, Wilma for a meaningful and celebratory Awards Celebration! Thanks to all the NiOT members who prepared for the celebratioI was honored to be a part of this honorable event. As one who selected the first honoree I have witnessed through these 18 years, the commitment to social justice from the honorees and the dedication and togetherness of the NiOT members. NiOT is a positive and needed force in this town and when my emotional side kicks in, as it did when I spoke about our honorees, I go back in time and think of how important it would have been if NiOT and the honorees had existed in Princeton during the days that I grew up in a segregated, Jim Crow town!!

  2. These comments are excerpted from Ziad Ahmed’s twitter account (@ziadtheactivist). Ziad is himself a pro at social media but today is Ramadan, so I take the liberty of sharing some of his thoughts. Ziad — Happy Ramadan! — Ramadan Kareem!

    “Today, I was honored by Not in Our Town (Princeton) with their Unity Award, and it was a profoundly beautiful event.It is so refreshing to be around people who care deeply about justice, and who are there to support you in this essential fight.The importance of role models is profound. Everyone can benefit from guidance, support, & advice. Grateful to be surrounded by so many.

    “I wore a shirt featuring #MuhammadAli (the GREATEST) because he EPITOMIZED what it means to be PROUD of your race, religion, & selfIf you want America to be great, follow in the footsteps of the GREATEST. #MuhammadAli #RestinPower #TheSkyIsCrying”

  3. t was a privilege to attend such am emotionally moving celebration and honor community youth. My amazement lied in listening to their stories, not ones that emerged from their parents social activism, but from their own lived experiences and willingness to identify their moral compasses – WOW! I am so glad I was able to attend and witness such a moving acknowledgment of social excellence, individual strength, and the willingness, in spite of peer pressure, to stand for one’s truth about social justice – POWERFUL!

  4. Pingback: Choose – to tell stories vs racism | Princeton Comment

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