For release: April 2, 2010
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843
The University of Memphis will present the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights
Award to Leah C. Wells in a ceremony Monday, April 5, at 2 p.m. in the University
Center Theatre. The award recognizes individuals whose activities exemplify non-violent
leadership in the pursuit of social justice and human rights.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship also will be awarded at the ceremony. The
2010 recipient is Antedra Alexis Finger, a junior biology major. She is the daughter
of Marquazette and Alex Finger of Little Rock.
Wells has long worked on issues of human rights. She taught courses on conflict resolution
in Washington, D.C., and in California, where she was recognized by the National Peace
Corps Association as the Peace Educator of the Year. In Memphis she has worked on
issues of child poverty with The Urban Child Institute and on leadership training
through GOT Power, and she has served on the Public Buildings and Purchasing Policies
Committee with Sustainable Shelby.
Leah C. Wells
Wells worked with the U of M’s Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change in 2005.
She led the nonviolence training at the National Civil Rights Museum for participants
in the 2007 march in Jena, La., in support of the Jena Six. She has published extensively
about poverty, human rights, ecology, and economics, and is a regular contributor
to The Commercial Appeal’s online publication, “Going Green.”
Wells is now working with BioDimensions and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation on several
projects, including publishing a local green-jobs assessment and contributing to a
report on strategies for biobased products in the Mississippi Delta. She earned her
bachelor of science degree in linguistics from Georgetown University in 1998 and her
master’s degree in political science from the U of M in 2005. She is pursuing her
doctorate in political science at the University of Mississippi.
Finger is vice president of the Minority Association for Pre-medical Students (the
U of M chapter of the Student National Medical Association), which connects undergraduate
students with medical students and physicians in the Memphis area. The organization
provides networking experiences, HIV screenings, and blood drives, and collaborates
with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to host health fairs in African-American
communities. Her goal is to become a neonatologist in a rural area.
Antedra Alexis Finger
The event, which is open to the public, is sponsored by African and African-American
Studies and the Office of Diversity at the U of M. For more information, call 901-678-3516.