2019 – TENNESSEE (MEMPHIS REGION)
Elijah "RaShad" Oliver is a senior at Harding Academy in Memphis and has dedicated the last few years to engineering bonds to fix racial fracturing in both his school and local communities. As a member of the Memphis NAACP Youth Council, RaShad has served as historian, treasurer, first vice president, and is now serving his second term as president. As president, he has focused the Youth Council on local outreach and both mental and physical health. Furthermore, he was instrumental in pushing through the lynching marker of Ell Persons, a man who was wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. In response to an almost all-white and all Church of Christ chapel held on the same day of the only African American history chapel of the school year, RaShad channeled the anger, hurt, and confusion of the black Harding students into a new organization called the Ambassadors for Christ, Diversity Branch. This new branch of a previously dormant club brought energy and excitement into Harding Academy's minority students. Building club membership to over sixty members across grades 10-12, the Diversity Club has become one of the most prominent and most progressive organizations on campus. Under RaShad's supervision, the Diversity Club, instrumental to improving race relations between Harding Academy students, teachers, and faculty, became known for its fresh approach to race relations, community service, God's church, and of course, its inaugural powderpuff game. RaShad is proud of the work accomplished through his organizations, and continues to be passionate about creating change and managing people. He looks forward to attending Howard University in the fall where he will major in finance and minor in management.