Post contributed by Taylor Craft, Office of Sustainability Intern
Some claim that the days of citizen activism in the U.S. are over, and that we are raising a generation oblivious to civil affairs. Not everyone has met Ken Ward, a young man well-versed in city ordinances and municipal codes who rallied more than 200 of Montgomery’s youth during the Dream Marches On Youth Day of Service in order to refurbish a large portion of the Selma-to Montgomery Voting Rights Trail. This feat earned Ken the Keep America Beautiful Youth Recognition Award, given to those who have demonstrated community leadership excellence by improving and beautifying their community.
Keep America Beautiful’s mission, “to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment”, has helped inspire thousands of citizens to take control of their communities and make a positive, lasting impact. The Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights Trail saw improvements in landscaping, litter reduction, and civic-engagement after the Dream Marches On Youth Day of Service. This collective effort demonstrated how young people can excel at creating a positive change at any level.
Today, Ken is a freshman at Auburn University, studying journalism and political science. Although Ken must spend most of his time in Auburn, he still makes time to make the commute to Montgomery on weekends, tirelessly seeking improvements in his hometown. He now works closely with the head of the Clean City Commission in Montgomery on a neighborhood revitalization project aimed at the north end of Montgomery, an area in desperate need of revitalization.
Ken’s dedication to his city serves as a testament to those that believe citizen activism is alive and helps us realize that we are all empowered to make our communities, and our world, a better place to live.
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Activism hasn’t died….it’s in a process of rediscovery and reinvention. This nation was built on activism…we just need to harness it more moving forward.