We are blessed to live with inspiration from those who selflessly commit themselves to champion causes that have transformative impact.

Reverend C. T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, along with others, were valiant giants whose leadership and hard-fought battles in civil rights changed our way of life as Black Americans, while creating a more equitable society for this nation.

Our current moment reminds us that the struggle for a free, just and equitable society is continuous.  The centrality of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to the leadership trajectory of young Vivian and Lewis years ago, reminds us of how impactful student advocacy can be in influencing societal and systemic change today.

From lunch counter sit-ins, to Freedom Rides, to bus boycotts, to voting rights demonstrations — Reverend Vivian, Congressman Lewis, Dr. King and other civil rights change agents, like Emma Sanders, who we also lost recently, merged non-violent activism and creativity, developing an innovative, global blueprint for systemic change.

As we remember these giants, let us renew our commitment to advance the ideals of truth, freedom, justice and equity. I commit to honoring the lives of these social justice champions with my life’s work.


Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton
Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity
Chief Diversity Officer
Auburn University


Two Thirds Pie Chart Graphic

Nearly 2/3

of PLUS scholars graduated 
cum laude or higher in 2017


student organizations for
diverse student excellence

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