Sultana BegumSultana Begum, a sophomore at North Atlanta High School, will be awarded the 2010 Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her efforts to improve race relations in her school and local community. She is the first Atlanta Public Schools recipient to receive this honor. Begum will receive a $1,000 award, which will be presented by the Atlanta committee of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations and the Princeton Club of Georgia in a ceremony in late May.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations is an awards program that recognizes high school students for outstanding work in their schools or communities that advances the cause of race relations. The program was launched in 2003 in the Washington, D.C., and Boston metropolitan areas and has expanded every year, now operating in 23 regions. Princeton University is the only American university whose alumni recognize high school students every year for their work to improve race relations in their schools and communities.

Begum will receive Atlanta’s Princeton Prize in Race Relations in recognition of her work to increase racial harmony, respect, and understanding by planning, organizing, and executing a cultural fashion show highlighting many of the native cultures/races represented at her high school. She involved more than 20 students as models and cultural docents and hosted a show with more than 400 community members in attendance.

Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean were represented during this event. Teachers were involved and served as models. All proceeds from the show were contributed to an international relief agency, Direct Relief International. She recently planned an international night of music and dance and an intercultural group she founded helped participants in a cafeteria fight between a Mexican student and an African-American student understand that cultural differences contributed to their physical altercation.

She was also awarded a Certificate of Accomplishment from the Princeton Prize in Race Relations last year for showing great initiative to remove the “barriers of unfamiliarity” by encouraging her fellow ninth graders to socialize beyond their racial and cultural groups and learn to feel comfortable with all members of their new high school.

The Atlanta Committee for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations is also awarding Certificates of Accomplishment to the following students:

Philip Ehrenberg, a senior at the Paideia School, for his leadership in the group Race! Action! Discussion!, a student-led initiative to openly discuss and improve race relations at his school.

Maya Jackson, a senior at Therrell School of Health Science and Research, for her commitment to improve the quality of interactions between students of diverse backgrounds in a school that is predominantly African-American.

Marjorie Johnson, a senior at the Westminster Schools, for her work in producing Dinner and Documentary nights, where she prompted her fellow students, as well as faculty and parents, to watch relevant films and discuss the importance of the film toward greater understanding between races.

Elisha Pittman, a junior at Carver School of Health Sciences, for her leadership in planning and directing a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at her predominately African-American high school in an attempt to increase understanding and respect between African-American and Hispanic students.

Emily Saunders, a senior at Marist School, for her leadership in her school’s diversity club, Mosaic. She conducted sessions with students and faculty directed at identifying stereotypes and challenging participants to work toward accepting people of all races and cultures.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.