‘Labors of Love’
Connecticut College has honored three members of its community with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards, given each year to those who exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King's work. The 2012 recipients are Mab Segrest, the Fuller- Maathai Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Connecticut College; Kiesha Henry, staff assistant for the Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS) and the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy; and Connecticut College senior Jazmin Long.
Segrest, who specializes in social movements and sexuality studies, was honored for her lifelong commitment to social justice. She is the author of several books, including "Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice," "Memoir of a Race Traitor" and "My Mama's Dead Squirrel: Lesbian Essays on Southern Culture."
Prior to joining the Connecticut College faculty in 2002, Segrest was a full-time activist and organizer and has founded and served on the boards of a broad range of social justice organizations.
"For her entire life, professor Segrest has fought for justice and stood her ground as an intellectual, committed voice for issues of justice across racial, gender, economic and sexual lines," the Rev. Claudia Highbaugh, dean of religious and spiritual life, said.
As a staff assistant for OVCS and the Holleran Center, Henry is part of a team that is committed to making change, working with students and building networks within the community. An activist on and off campus, she is a minister with the New Life Church in Ledyard, Conn.; a member of the board of directors of Work & Learn, a non-profit organization that implements programs designed to teach life skills, computer skills and job seeking skills to people who are unemployed; a volunteer mentor for the residents of Community of Hope, a homeless shelter that houses women in recovery and women who have recently been released from prison; and the volunteer director of TZEDAKA, a faith-based non-profit organization that collaborates with other New London non-profit and faith-based initiatives to eliminate health, educational and economic disparities.
"Ms. Henry is ready to extend a helping hand to anyone and everyone who needs it," one former student wrote in a nomination letter. "She never hesitates to remind students to never give up on their hopes and dreams."
Tracee Reiser, associate dean for community learning and director of OVCS, nominated Long for her extensive record of service and leadership on the Connecticut College campus and in the greater community.
"Whether it is providing direct service, advocating, studying, researching or leading student groups, Jazmin connects with diversity, social justice and equity issues," Reiser said. "She has relentlessly pursued knowledge and skill development to better understand systems of power and oppression and how to challenge them to bring about a more just society."
Long, a scholar in the College's Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, serves in the Student Government Association, is co-chair of the Students Organized Against Racism and is an active member of UMOJA, a student group dedicated to raising awareness of the African Diaspora through social, political and academic success.
In the community, she has volunteered at New London's Drop In Learning Center, the New London Clinical School, the local United Way and the New London Homeless Hospitality Center. She also spent a semester studying abroad in Durban, South Africa, with a program that focuses on community health and social policy.
The awards were presented at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Ceremony Friday, January 27. The ceremony also included performances by the Unity Gospel Choir, the spoken word poetry group Reflexions and the Camelbacks step group.