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Student Peace Laureates

Justin Davis
Rhodes College

A St. Louis, MO native, Justin Davis is a senior at Rhodes College, where he is double-majoring in English and Greek & Roman Studies. As an underclassman he volunteered at Refugee Empowerment Program, and spent a year in leadership of a college access program for high school students. In 2015, he began working at Mid-South Peace & Justice Center, and wrote a report that summer outlining the negative social impacts of the Memphis trolleys. Since then, Justin has continued serving the Center as a community organizer for the Memphis Bus Riders Union (MBRU), a grassroots organization that advocates for social and economic justice in the city's public transit system. In 2016, he was elected Secretary, and helped lobby the City of Memphis to increase bus funding by $7.5 million, the largest such increase in several years.  As an MBRU member, he has spoken to local and regional press, classes at Rhodes and Memphis Theological Seminary, and appeared on panels about transit and environmental justice. As a student, Justin has been inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society for English, and Eta Sigma Phi Honor Society for Classical Studies. Earlier this year, he spoke on a Rhodes panel with Dr. Angela Davis, renowned activist and scholar.

Damou Traore
The LeMoyne-Owen College

Son of Dissa Sacko and Mamady Traore, Damou is originally from Guinea. In 2011, he arrived in Atlanta, GA, where he attended and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, Senior Academy. After graduation, he moved to Memphis, TN to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at The LeMoyne-Owen College. He is a member of various campus organizations and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Mr. LeMoyne-Owen 2016. His initiatives have welcomed an array of state and city officials and political activists as keynote speakers to LeMoyne-Owen's campus in an effort to highlight the importance of civic engagement and to increase the number of students participating in the country’s democratic system and craft a generation of “civic scholars,” especially among young African Americans.


Taylor Flake
Christian Brothers University

Taylor Derielle Flake is a sophomore history major at Christian Brothers University. Taylor organized the founding of CBU’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP during her first year of college. CBU still stands as the first and only LaSallian University in the world to have its own Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP. Taylor is passionate about solving social justice issues and implementing long-lasting change and this passion is evident through her leadership in the NAACP. Through programs like the Juvenile Justice Summit, NAACP Reads, and the Black Lives Matter Campaign, Christian Brothers University’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP has worked tirelessly under the leadership of Ms. Flake to create programs and initiatives that challenge CBU and the Memphis community to face the issues in our community and work together to solve them.


Ayele Akibulan
The LeMoyne-Owen College

Ayele Akibulan is a 1988 honors graduate from Hamilton High School. As a student at LeMoyne-Owen College, he serves as Vice–President of Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society (Memphis Chapter), and was selected to Who’s Who Among Students and All–American Scholars (2011–2014), and maintains 3.9 GPA. For the past fourteen years he and his friends and family have been feeding the homeless at the corner of Poplar and High Street in the downtown Memphis area. They prepare hot, home cooked meals and serve the less fortunate every other Sunday. He also works with at risk youth, including current and former gang members, to help redirect their paths through a “Scared Straight” program, which hopes to deter bad behavior. As a result of their efforts, they received the Special Congressional Recognition Award for outstanding and invaluable service to the community from Harold Ford, Jr.; the Mayoral Special Recognition Award for outstanding and momentous service to the community from Dr. Willie Herenton; and the K97 Peace Achievers Award.


Franklin Dale Stewart Dakin
Rhodes University

Frankie and his family have lived in the Millington community since the mid-1990s. At Millington High School he served as both captain of the football team and Student Government President. He also became heavily involved with BRIDGES, a youth service and outreach program with a 90 year history in Memphis.When considering college, Frankie says the choice was between West Point and Rhodes College.“The tipping point was when I was selected to participate in a service scholarship program at Rhodes, called the Bonner Scholarship,” he writes. “The Bonner Program gave me the opportunity to dedicate my college years to the Memphis and Greater Memphis Community. In August of 2010, as a college freshman, I immediately consumed myself in the BRIDGES organization. I started as an intern in Curriculum Development, helped develop the pilot program BRIDGES Change, and then served as one of the first intern coordinators of that program. This service opened my eyes to the potential change that young people could make in their communities.”In May 2012, at the age of 19, Frankie left his role at BRIDGES to mount a campaign for Millington Alderman. After a summer of fundraising and door to door campaigning, he became the first teenager elected alderman in the city’s history, making him the youngest current elected official in Tennessee.


Samantha Sol Bownes
Christian Brothers University

Samantha Sol Bownes attended Ridgeway High School, where she was a mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister program and helped organize a blood drive. During her junior year at Christian Brothers University, a documentary by the non-profit humanitarian group Invisible Children inspired Samantha to become involved in humanitarian work. She is now the founder and president of Visible Campus, a CBU student group thatcollects books for schools in Uganda. As the chairperson of the CBU chapter of Beta Beta Beta, a national biology honor society, she has organized the annual Bowlathon for Uganda, a benefit for the Ugandan non-profit organization Hope North, and has helped form a new program to encourage first and second year students involved in community service and humanitarian work.  For her accomplishments, CBU has honored her as a Lasallian Fellow.In the Memphis community she is the local manager of the small, grassroots, non-profit group Arudo Yat, which sells jewelry, handmade by Ugandans, to fund schooling and medical expenses of children in Uganda.  She has also done much volunteer work for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis Trauma Department.


Kioni Hawkins Logan
The LeMoyne-Owen College

Kioni Hawkins Logan, a Memphis native,  grew up in the Westwood area of Memphis and attended Hamilton High School. She began studies in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Pre-Law at LeMoyne-Owen College in 2008. Recognizing that societal issues in impoverished neighborhoods contributed to criminal behavior, she sought to deepen her understanding of these issues by participating in community and mentoring programs for teenaged victims of abuse. She has assumed a leadership role at the Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church, helping to distribute food to the community's homeless and poor,  and has also helped organize tutoring programs for illiterate children and adults and workshops for single parents. At LeMoyne-Owen College she is a member of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and presides as chair of its Social Action Committee and co-chairs its Community Service Committee. As part of the schools Community Partnership Program, she assists Memphis area officials to determine crime risk areas.


Jennifer Nicole Armstrong
University of Memphis

As President of the Student Activities Council at the University of Memphis, Jenn Armstrong almost single-handedly orchestrated The Writing on the Wall Project.  This display and event sought to raise awareness of the walls we build between us and the hurtful and hateful words we use that tear us apart as a society. Her research, presentation and passion sold University administrators on supporting such a controversial program. Her tenacious efforts with seven different campus departments and 15 student organizations, logistical meetings with campus officials and two full months buying, organizing, transporting and distributing supplies brought the project to fruition. Serving as the official spokesperson, Jenn produced a video, utilized social media to promote the undertaking and garnered significant coverage among area news outlets.  The project had an enormous impact on students, staff, faculty and the entire Memphis community.Additionally, Jenn has organized large groups of students to help her with park clean-up projects in inner city neighborhoods.  She has volunteered to work with senior citizens at the Orange Mound Community Center and spearheaded the Emerging Leader class project that served the Lester Community Center.Her selfless commitment to these and other projects to improve life for others guided the selection committee to choose Jenn from several worthy candidates for the 2010 Vanderhaar Student Peace Award.


Anthony Siracusa
Rhodes College

Anthony Siracusa founded Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Memphis in June 2002. Since then, the shop has grown in its ability to serve the need for affordable bicycles and provide mechanical education to many area residents.  In 2005, he was asked to serve on Memphis' Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, now an official body of the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that works with city engineers to develop projects to increase the safety of bicyclists in Memphis.As a student at Rhodes College, Anthony has received numerous awards: The Jane Donaldson Kepple Best First Year Essay Prize; The Robert G. Patterson Award in Religious Studies; honors for a paper on the Rev. James Morris Lawson Jr. during the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies; The Jane Donaldson Kepple Best Scholarly Essay Prize; induction into the Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society in History; and induction into the Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society, an honor awarded to the top 3 percent of the student body at Rhodes College. Anthony is a native Memphian, he plays in local bands Bury the Living and Pezz, and he writes a monthly column about bicycling entitled "LifeCycles" for The Commercial Appeal.  He is currently working on a thesis aimed at understanding the life and times of the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., the man Dr. King recognized as the leading authority on nonviolent direct action theory and strategy.


Ceylon Mooney
Christian Brothers University

Ceylon Mooney has studied mathematics and religion at Christian Brothers University and will receive his Bachelor of Arts degree this semester. An accomplished musician and human rights activist, Ceylon has toured the United States, Canada and Europe consistently speaking out against war and sanctions. He helped form the Humanitarian Action Collective and has served as a coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness, and on the board of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. In 2001, he traveled to Iraq twice in violation of U.S. led economic sanctions and spent three weeks in Baghdad and Basra living among ordinary Iraqi families. In December 2004, Ceylon made his first trip to Israel and Palestine to witness first-hand the plight of refugees and conditions in the mid-east region.


Rev. André Johnson
University of Memphis

Rev. André Johnson is a student in the department of communications at the University of Memphis, where he is completing his doctoral dissertation in African-American rhetoric. He is also pastor of Gifts of Life Ministries, a non-denominational church in midtown Memphis. Rev. Johnson is involved with a variety of peace and justice issues, including the Living Wage Campaign, working with inner city youth on conflict resolution, participating in local peace walks, and supporting peace education events at area schools.

Laura Dallas
Rhodes College

Laura has been active for four years in hunger and homeless programs in Memphis, directing the student-operated Souper Contact program. For the past two years she has focused on the Memphis Living Wage Campaign, interning and volunteering with the Mid-South Interfaith Network. This past summer she interned with the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington D.C. Laura is also a frequent participant in Servant Leadership. She is currently the elected moderator of the Kinney Program at Rhodes, facilitating student leaders that mobilize volunteers and interns campus-wide to serve weekly in local churches, non-profits and community organizations. Additionally, she has been a campus organizer with the College Democrats and the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. As a leader and peacemaker, Laura is a great example of someone who consistently combines acts of compassion, service and personal caring with a search for the root causes of social problems and a commitment to justice.