Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, STOP Conference co-chair, left, and Mercer President William D. Underwood, right, presented Dr. Mary Ann Drake, center, with flowers and a plaque commemorating the naming of the Mary Ann Drake Human Rights Advocacy Award at Mercer's March 20 anti-human trafficking conference.
MACON – Mercer University presented 10 pioneers in the anti-human trafficking movement in Georgia with a new award, the Mary Ann Drake Human Rights Advocacy Award, during its March 20 conference against trafficking, titled “Stop Sex Trafficking: The Call To End 21st Century Slavery.” The award is named for Dr. Mary Anne Drake, professor and director of Mercer’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program. The group surprised Dr. Drake with the honor and presented her with a bouquet of flowers marking the occasion during the awards ceremony.
“We’re naming the award after our own most persistent, patient, innovative human rights advocate for the last 25 years here at Mercer and in Macon,” said Dr. Andrew Silver, conference co-chair and the Page Morton Hunter Associate Professor of English. “Mary Ann works where no spotlight shines, with no microphone, no awesome t-shirts - when nobody is applauding.
Dr. Silver noted that Dr. Drake spent her time in Macon and at Mercer – nearly three decades – caring for the sick, the dying, the ostracized and the suffering “with steadfast love and determination, and an unbreakable faith in the healing that love brings and the hope that justice delivers.”
“Long before AIDS became a cause célèbre, Dr. Drake was visiting AIDS patients in hospitals, holding their hands as they died,” Dr. Silver said. “She has continued that work in Macon with World AIDS Day, as a member of the board of Diversity House and the board of Citizen’s Advocacy. She has also cared for a child with Down Syndrome for so many years that she considers him her son.”
In addition to her exemplary work as a human rights advocate, Drake has also made her mark at Mercer as an outstanding professor, said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, conference co-chair, senior vice provost for service-learning and chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
“Mary Ann teaches students about care and compassion,” Dr. Morgan said. “She prods her students to think about their role in the world and capacity to do good. She embodies the Mercer ethos and is a model of the fully integrated scholar-teacher.”
The Mary Anne Drake Human Rights Advocacy Award is designed to recognize the long, hard work of a few who fight with all of their strength when nobody’s looking, when nobody’s listening, to bring justice to those whose voices nobody hears, Dr. Silver said.
The first honorees of this award include: Nancy A. Boxill, Fulton County commissioner; Susan Coppedge, assistant U. S. attorney for Northern District of Georgia; Sir G. Streeter, senior special agent, and his Atlanta Field Unit of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Human Trafficking Group; Dr. Yolanda Graham, medical director of Angela's House and Inner Harbour; Lisa Williams, founder of Circle of Friends and Living Water for Girls; Kaffie McCullough, founder of “A Future Not a Past” of the Juvenile Justice Fund; Alia El-Sawi, Anti-Human Trafficking Program coordinator for Tapestri; Hannah Vann, president of STOP; Stephanie Davis, policy advisor on women’s issues for the Atlanta Mayor's Office, and Alesia Adams, territorial services coordinator against human and sexual trafficking for Southern Territory of The Salvation Army.