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Emory faculty, students, alumni honored for continuing King's legacy

Emory College senior Chelsea Jackson (center) receives her award from WABE-FM during a ceremony April 3 at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. A Rhodes Scholar, Jackson co-founded Atlanta Black Students United. Photo courtesy WABE.


To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE-FM held a community-wide gathering at the Center for Civil and Human Rights to honor individuals and organizations who are preserving King’s mission and continuing the tenets of his dream.

The event was held April 3, the eve of the anniversary of King’s death. Author, activist and Emory PhD Catherine Meeks served as keynote speaker.

Several members of the Emory community were among the honorees:

  • Chelsea Jackson, an Emory senior and Rhodes Scholar who co-founded the Atlanta Black Students United (ATLBSU), a group with black student representatives from every school in metro Atlanta; 
  • Judith Wold, Distinguished Professor for Educational Leadership in Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, who leads the Farm Worker Family Health Program to provide health care services to migrant individuals in Moultrie, Georgia;
  • Leah Ward Sears ‘80L, a member of Emory’s Board of Trustees, partner with Smith, Gambrell & Russell, and former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, the first African-American female chief justice in the U.S.;
  • Heval Kelli, MD, cardiologist and former fellow of Emory School of Medicine, a Kurd from Syria and advocate for immigrants and refugees in the greater Atlanta community.

The event also marked the culmination of ATL68, a four-month-long project by WABE’s news magazine talk show “Closer Look with Rose Scott,” which broadcast a series of conversations, profiles and behind-the-scenes recollections relating to King and the Civil Rights Movement, both then and now.

Several Emory faculty participated in the series:

  • Ellen Gough, assistant professor of religion, talked about the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on King’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance.
  • Robert Franklin, James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership, discussed King’s moral leadership. 
  • Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and chair of African American Studies, discussed civil rights and social justice movements under several U.S. presidential administrations.
  • Joe Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History, was interviewed about a little-known event, an interracial Passion Play, that took place in Atlanta six months after the assassination of Dr. King.

“Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is extremely important to us,” says Wonya Lucas, president and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta. “Rose Scott, and the ‘Closer Look,’ team have worked hard to identify leaders in our local community that exemplify the characteristics of Dr. King. We highlight the work of these individuals to demonstrate the continued impact of Dr. King’s mission here in the city of Atlanta.”

For more information about the ATL68 series, visit

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