Durham, North Carolina High School Senior is Among 12 Winners of ACLU College Scholarship for Youth Activism

May 23, 2001 12:00 am

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Wednesday, May 23, 2001

RALEIGH, NC – – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina today announced that Amiris Brown of Jordan High School is one of 12 seniors nationwide to be awarded a $4,000 college scholarship in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the struggle to defend civil liberties.

borah Ross, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “She is an excellent example of non-traditional youth leadership.”

As a participant in Youth Voice Radio, a non-profit, youth-run organization that provides young people with the opportunity to bring about social change through the media, Amiris spreads awareness of civil liberties and current political issues to minors. Ms. Brown’s primary function at Youth Voice Radio was to prepare public service announcements and commentaries on issues affecting youth.

Through Youth Voice Radio, Ms. Brown regularly attended training seminars that allow participants to critically analyze social issues like corporate media, the portrayal of youth in mainstream media, and various forms of oppression. In August 2000, Ms. Brown hosted a Youth Voice Radio conference that focused on oppression and restrictions on youth.

“”Participating in this organization has truly allowed me to take direct action against injustice, helping me to become a better civil rights activist,”” said Ms. Brown.

Youth Voice Radio has made Ms. Brown a true believer in the power of the media and its important role in social activism. She has used the radio to comment on issues that directly affect her and her classmates.

At the beginning of her junior year, Ms. Brown’s high school received a new principal. Detecting that many of her fellow classmates and even some teachers didn’t approve of the new administrator, Ms. Brown decided to take action. She taped the commentary of various students and faculty at her school, edited the material and aired it during a Youth Voice Radio program.

“”Some people may find it difficult being an activist and a high school student,”” said Ms. Brown, who will be attending Durham Technical College in the Fall. “”I find activism is just a part of life, just like having to eat food to live. Life is freedom and anything other than freedom is death.”

Ms. Brown frequently attends protests about a variety of civil rights issues. She also spends her spare time working to get innocent prisoners released from death row and laying the ground for a gay-straight student alliance club to be founded at her school.

In addition to her many civil rights activities, Ms. Brown practices Taekwondo and exercises her creative energy through sketching, sculpting, painting and poetry. She has won numerous awards for her artistic work, including the American Smoke-Out State Award and the Art Institute of Atlanta Award.

In addition to Ms. Brown, this year’s other recipients hail from California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Many of the students selected stood up for the rights of their peers by challenging the injustices inflicted upon them by school officials; created an ACLU chapter at their school; or interned at the ACLU affiliate office in their state. In 2000, the first year of the program, the ACLU awarded scholarships to eight high school seniors.

“”The ACLU’s College Scholarship for Youth Activism Award gives us an opportunity to recognize the courage of students like Ms. Brown and the example they set for their peers,”” said Nadine Strossen, President of the National ACLU. “”It truly is an honor to be able to provide these intelligent, resourceful and committed young people with support for their education.””

To learn about the other winners, please visit our web feature at http://archive.aclu.org/features/f052301a.html.

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