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 SRU marks Rev. King's legacy with Civil Leadership, essay awards 



January 25, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab


SRU marks Rev. King's legacy with Civil Leadership, essay awards


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A student, a faculty member and a staff member at Slippery Rock University were saluted Thursday for their pursuit of civil rights and social justice when they were presented SRU's Civil Leadership Awards as part of the seventh annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

           Three other students were named winners in the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest.

           Todd Allen, associate professor of communication at Geneva College, was the speaker for the University Union event. 

           The civil leadership awards went to:

           >Ebony Jackson, a sport management major from Pittsburgh;

           Kateeka Harris, director of SRU's judicial programs; and

           Jace Condravy, professor of English at SRU.

           First-, second- and third-pace honors in the annual essay contest went to:

           Veronica Martin an athletic training major from Hilliards ($150);

           Britnee Weatherspoon, public health major for Clairton ($100); and

           Cicely Jackson, elementary education major from Pittsburgh ($50).

           The leadership awards salute individuals or groups that have demonstrated support of civil rights in words and actions; advocated for social justice in words and actions; and demonstrated leadership by motivating others toward understanding and pursuing civil rights and social justice for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability.

           Jackson, a campus student leader, was citied for her longstanding and demonstrated commitment to fairness and equality. She has been involved as a presenter in "The Vagina Monologues," a member, past secretary and current president of Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and as vice president of administrative affairs for the SRU Student Government Association. Under her leadership, FMLA sponsored numerous programs and events focused on justice and fairness, including "Take Back the Night" rallies for women's rights to safety in the public arena. She is also a member of SRU's Black Action Society and the SRU Chapter of the NAACP.  

           Harris' award was presented for epitomizing and demonstrating what social justice means, how it is defined and how social justice plays out in everyday lives. Through her varied responsibilities in SRU's Office of Admissions, Office of Multicultural Development and most recently as director of Judicial Programs, she has committed her time and spirit to advocating and supporting civil rights and social justice and also to serving as an educator, mentor and supporter to others in their own development and practice of social justice.

           Harris is certified as a social justice mediator and is a facilitator for the National Coalition Building Institute. She serves on the University's behavioral intervention team, the diversity and inclusion team and safe zone. She has worked with students encouraging open dialogue and in creating a safe space for all to discuss issues of social justice.

           Condravy was nominated for showing throughout her SRU tenure that she is an advocate of women, and women of color in particular. She has worked tirelessly on a variety of projects over a lengthy period to encourage others to gain a better understanding of civil rights and social justice for all people. As part of SRU's Women's Studies Program, which Condravy was instrumental in starting, she was particularly sensitive to the inclusion of race and class issues as they related to the various topics.

           Through her many grant applications, Condravy has been able to bring to campus significant and inspiring minority women speakers, presenters and performers. In her roles as director of Women's Studies for 17 years, president of the local chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State, College and University Faculty, and as a participant on numerous campus committees dedicated to equality, equity and diversity, she has demonstrated commitment and resolve to achieve social justice for all.

           This year's essay contest topic was: "Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'An individual has not started living fully until they can rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity' ... Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

           The quote was taken from Rev. King's "A Conquering Self-Centeredness" speech given in Montgomery, Ala., Aug. 11, 1957.

           Those entering the contest were required to submit at least 1,000 words regarding the question, "What are you doing for others and also address why it is important for society to help one another."

            Allen, who is also chair of his department at Geneva College, is a frequent lecturer/trip coordinator concerning the civil rights movement. 

           His awards and honors include those presented by the NEH Fellowship-African American Civil Rights Struggles in the Twentieth Century at Harvard University; Minority Opinion Magazine Minority Achiever Award; YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Racial Justice Award; and the Civil Rights Humanitarian Award.

           He is the founder and director of The Common Ground Project. He earned his bachelor of science degree at Geneva College, his masters degree in communication at the University of Akron and his doctorate in communication and rhetorical studies at Duquesne University.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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