Activist state

Free State Junior Receives 2022 Princeton Race Relations Award – The Lawrence Times

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Soledad Edison, 17, has been inspiring conversations about equity in the classroom since middle school. Now in his freshman year at Free State High School, Edison has a passion for connecting with diverse people and finding solutions to issues facing marginalized students.

For his work, Edison received the 2022 Princeton Race Relations Award for the Greater Kansas City Area. The award, sponsored and given by Princeton University and university alumni, is given annually to students across the country who have “worked to advance racial equity in their communities,” according to its website.

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Edison believes that those who fight for equitable opportunities for a social group should strive to support all social issues simultaneously.

As someone who identifies as a young, black, queer woman, Edison said she has developed a deep appreciation for “intersectionality.” The term was coined by civil rights activist and academic Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how individuals and groups of people experience overlapping systems of oppression based on their various identities.

“I live my life with these multiple facets of myself and I can’t tell them apart and separate them, so they will always be kind of intertwined. I really try to incorporate that into my work because people have many layers to themselves and they all deserve to be celebrated and appreciated,” Edison said.

When Edison applied for the scholarship in January, she didn’t expect to see an email letting her know she had won scrolling through her inbox in March.

The judges specifically singled out Edison’s “outstanding efforts to advance racial equity and promote understanding” for her work as a leader of the Free State’s Equity Council, as well as her “vocal and intentional efforts to provide students with a exposure to a more inclusive and robust social studies curriculum. “, according to a press release.

In addition to receiving a $1,000 prize, Edison will attend the 2022 Princeton Prize Symposium on Race Relations in April along with other regional winners. The event is virtual this year due to COVID-19 precautions, but winners are usually invited to Princeton University, New Jersey, for an in-person symposium.

Through his leadership on the Equity Council, Edison participated in conversations with his school administration and the school board regarding unequal policies. Edison said the group was able to share their perspectives as students on issues such as how United States history is taught in school and students’ freedom to express their identity as kind.

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Since the Equity Council is a newly created organization in Free State, Edison said members are primarily focused on discussion, inclusivity and laying the groundwork for the next year.

The Equity Council started with one of Edison’s English teachers who had an anti-racist book group that a few students were involved in. Now the group consists of 13 or 14 students who collaborate to challenge inequalities in the education system.

Edison leaves time to find herself and she is constantly learning. Her current favorite author is Angela Davis, a black power and feminist revolutionary, and she is committed to reading as much anti-racism content as possible.

“I do a lot of reading and focus on what it means to be an activist and what it means to be fair in my own life,” Edison said.

In addition to reading, Edison enjoys playing guitar and producing songs with his friend in her spare time. She incorporates neo soul, indie and jazz sounds influenced by artists like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.

Beyond her impact in high school, Edison aspires to contribute to the field of neurology. Her dream university is the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) because of its outstanding cognitive science programs.

“I want to learn and research how cognitive bias and unconscious bias affect black and brown children in education and how we can improve that and how trauma affects education,” Edison said. “Stories that aren’t inclusive further harm the psychology of marginalized communities and have seriously damaged the overall health of those communities.”

As he approaches his senior year of high school next year, Edison wants to make sure the conversations continue after he graduates.

“I just really want to thank the people who are on the Council with me because they keep me positive and we motivate each other,” Edison said. “We know the job here isn’t done once we leave. The work is still going to be done and there will always be new people – fresh hearts and fresh flames to strengthen this fire.

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Equity reporter Maya Hodison(her) can be reached at mhodison(at)lawrencekstimes(dot)com. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

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Soledad Edison, 17, has been inspiring conversations about equity in the classroom since middle school. Now a junior at Free State, she has a passion for connecting with diverse people and finding solutions to issues facing marginalized students.

August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times

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The city will close Massachusetts Street in anticipation of – hopefully – large crowds of celebrating Jayhawk fans, according to a news release Monday.

Ken Lasman

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Here are some traces of raccoons in the damp soils of the banks of streams, one of their favorite places. Wet weather this week should improve your ability to see animal tracks, and even if it’s not raining where you are.

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