Not in Our Town Princeton (NIOT) honored five students at the annual Unity Award ceremony and reception on June 11 at Princeton University’s Friend Center. Joanne Adebayo, Luis Estrada, Matthew Hawes, Korein Ammons, and Isabelle Tilney-Sandberg received cash awards and certificates for being role models in their efforts to promote respect for diversity and advance the cause of race relations.

Adebayo, Estrada, and Hawes graduated from Princeton High School this month. Ammons and Tilney-Sandberg graduated from middle school — he from John Witherspoon School, she from Princeton Charter School.

Youth members of NIOT’s board — Winona Guo, Priya Vulchi, and Ziad Ahmed —- administered the award selection and took charge of the presentations, assisted by board member Shirley Satterfield. Robert Matos-Moran presented certificates on behalf of U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman. 

The awardees were enthusiastically supported, not only by family and friends, but also by school administrators, council members, members of the Board of Education, and representatives of the Princeton Public Library and the Princeton YWCA.

“We are cultivating the art of encouragement, expecting more of each other,” said Ruha Benjamin, an assistant professor at Princeton University who keynoted NIOT’s racial literacy series. “We are going to have to find other ways to make it a part of the culture and not just a single award.”

school board at NIOT Unity

Board of Education members present were Betsy Baglio, Dafna Kendal, Debbie Bronfeld, and Greg Stankiewicz. School administrators who came included  Steve Cochrane, Gary Snyder, Jason Burr, and Lisa Eckstrom.

Lance Liverman, Tim Quinn, Brett Bonfield

Princeton Council members present were Jo Butler, Tim Quinn, and Lance Liverman, who read a statement from Mayor Liz Lempert.  Representing the Princeton YWCA was Dr. Cheryl L. Rowe-Rendleman, board chairman.  From the Princeton Public Library came Brett Bonfield, executive director, Janie Hermann and Kim Dorman.

In a statement read by Councilman Lance Liverman, Mayor Liz Lempert said: “You all understand that you are never too young to start making a difference, and you all have set an example for your peers, and for the adults in the community as well.”

Linda Oppenheim and Larry Spruill co-chair the interracial, interfaith social action group that aims to speak truth about ‘everyday racism’ and other forms of prejudice and discrimination Founded in 1998, NIOT presents a monthly discussion series, Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege, in cooperation with the Princeton Public Library. NiOT also sponsors book readings, workshops, film series, panels, and anti-racism demonstrations.