Kennesaw State professor receives Hosea Williams Award for Community Activism

Jesse Benjamin at GSU awards ceremony with Barbara Emerson, daughter of Hosea Williams

Georgia State’s intercultural unit recognizes Jesse Benjamin’s work on public lecture series

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Feb. 3, 2014) — Georgia State University’s Office of Intercultural Relations awarded Kennesaw State University professor Jesse Benjamin its annual Hosea Williams Award for Community Activism, recognizing his role in organizing a public lecture series last year on noted international rights activist Walter Rodney.

The award was one of two – one to an individual and one to an organization – named in honor of Hosea Williams, the famed civil rights activist and close associate of Martin Luther King Jr. It was presented in January during Georgia State’s 31st anniversary MLK convocation.

“This award is a huge honor, a kind of career milestone,” said Benjamin, coordinator of African and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State and associate professor of sociology. “The award is named specifically for one of Dr. King’s most brilliant and committed lieutenants, so just to briefly be mentioned in the company of these giants is deeply humbling.”

Benjamin was the primary organizer of a groundbreaking 13-week lecture series focused on Walter Rodney, the noted Pan-Africanist, revolutionary scholar and author whose ideas fueled Black Power, human rights and workers' rights movements in the Caribbean and across North America during the 1960s and ‘70s. The series was presented in collaboration with the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. Students at Kennesaw State, Georgia State and the AU Center earned academic credit for attending the lectures.

“The fact that I designed the series in emulation of historian and educator Vincent Harding, another of King's legendary advisors, is just a sort of full circle moment for something I am deeply committed to,” Benjamin said. “It could never have happened without the support of students, colleagues and the exceptional administration at KSU, so I consider the award to be a collective award, reflecting on AADS and KSU as a whole.”

Silvia Trejo, a 2013 Kennesaw State graduate who now works in KSU’s Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity while pursuing a master’s degree at Georgia State, nominated Benjamin for the award.

For more information on the awards, click on http://intercultural.gsu.edu/mlk/

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.