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Birmingham’s Jordyn Hudson awarded Princeton Prize in Race Relations

Jordyn Hudson founded Shape the Culture last year to call attention to positive work young people across the country are doing in their communities. (contributed)

By Anthony Cook

Alabama Newscenter

Jordyn Hudson, a recent graduate of Indian Springs School near Birmingham, was recently awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations.

The prestigious award from Princeton University goes to high school students who work to advance racial equity in their communities. Twenty-nine students received the award this year, and Hudson was the only recipient from Alabama.

Each Princeton Prize in Race Relations recipient receives $1,000 and is invited to participate in a Symposium on Race to meet and learn from recipients from across the country and speak with people engaged in social justice work.

Last summer, Hudson launched Shape the Culture, a digital platform that highlights the positive work that young people across the country are doing in their communities, hoping to inspire others to do the same.

“I am honored to receive the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for the state of Alabama. To be recognized for my diversity, equity and inclusion work is humbling,” Hudson said in a statement to ANC. “I have had the opportunity to interview, through my digital platform Shape the Culture, a host of remarkable young people who are doing phenomenal work across the country to make our world a better place. So, I know the work that is being done by my peers. Therefore, I am grateful for the recognition.”

Hudson also credited partners and supporters with the success of her work.

“I really view it as a win for the entire Shape community because I don’t do the work alone. There are all of the people who took out the time to allow me to interview them about pressing topics affecting our youth and community,” she said. “Then, there are those who joined me at the Unity rally. The rally was held at a time when there was a lot of social unrest and emotions were high. Also, there is a group of teachers at my old high school who truly supported my DEI initiatives. So, I am grateful to everyone who has been on this journey with me.”

An announcement about the award posted to Princeton’s website reads: “Committed to rolling up her sleeves and making a difference, (Hudson) has dedicated her life beyond academics to political, diversity and philanthropic work – including serving in leadership roles with Youth Serve BirminghamYouth Philanthropy CouncilAlabama Youth Legislature, Indian Springs Student Government and Student Ambassador Program, Mock Trial, Heritage Panel and Black Student Caucus.

“Knowing that racial and social inequities needed to be addressed on the campus of her school, she developed a proposal to create the institution’s first diversity and inclusion initiative,” the award notice states. “This year, her diversity and inclusion initiative was adopted by the institution and incorporated (1) an annual student orientation on race, (2) the establishment of affinity spaces, (3) bi-monthly diversity symposiums and (4) the creation of a cultural society. Significant moments in 2020 – especially the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery – caused Jordyn to elevate her work and focus on social activism targeting racial injustice.”

As a part of her work with Shape the Culture, Hudson produced and directed a documentary film, “Shape the Culture: Then and Now,” which looks at how young people have affected the fight for equality. The film will premiere this summer. Through her work with Shape the Culture, Hudson has tackled difficult subjects like the impact of racial injustice on the mental health of young people and the effects of race on justice in America with attorney Benjamin Crump, according to the Princeton announcement. Last summer, Shape the Culture hosted the “Be the Change” unity rally in the same downtown Birmingham park where children in the 1960s marched for justice and equality.

Jordyn Hudson’s founding of Shape the Culture helped her win the Princeton Prize for Race Relations. Now she’s preparing to take the program nationwide. (contributed)

This fall, Hudson plans to attend Spelman College, where she will continue her education and her role as founder and CEO of Shape the Culture, which will be expanding its projects and programs nationwide.

“Thank you to the Princeton Prize for acknowledging my efforts and introducing me to other young people who are passionate about advocating for equity and inclusion. I am confident of our ability to be the change we seek when we work together!” Hudson said. “I will forever carry the young people who marched on the streets of Birmingham in the 1960s in my heart and mind. They continue to be my inspiration to fight for good in our society. I am looking forward to taking my talents to Spelman College, where I know my passions will become even stronger.”