The Stuff of Legend, and Legacy

James Weldon Johnson Institute awards 2011 Johnson Medals
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Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (from left), Wole Soyinka, Linda Gulley (who received the award on behalf of Hank Aaron), Xernona Clayton, and Willie Christine King Farris.

Bryan Meltz

The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference awarded five Johnson Medals in November to figures whose varied achievements reflect a deep commitment to civil and human rights. The 2011 medalists are baseball Hall of Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron, founder of the Chasing the Dream Foundation for children; Islam scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law and director of Emory’s Center for International and Comparative Law; civil rights activist and TV journalist Xernona Clayton, founder, president, and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation; the only living sibling of the late Martin Luther King Jr., Willie Christine King Farris, a career educator and associate professor of education and the director of the Learning Resources Center at Spelman College; and Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986 and Emory Woodruff Professor Emeritus. Also last fall, the Johnson Institute launched the provocative community forum CNN Dialogues in partnership with CNN and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights—part of the legacy of the late Rudolph Byrd, Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Johnson Institute.

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