By: John(na) Jackson
A University of Cincinnati sociologist was honored with the inaugural Embodiment of Hope award during the university's annual tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Earl Wright II, a professor of sociology in UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, was recognized Jan. 17 at a ceremony in Great Hall in Tangeman University Center. The event was sponsored by UC's African American Cultural & Resource Center.
The award recognizes faculty or staff who daily exemplify the highest caliber of spirit and service in implementing the vision espoused by King.
Wright, co-editor of the academic journal Social Problems, said he felt extremely honored to be the first recipient of the award.
“When I first heard I had won the award I wanted to get a true understanding of its meaning,” Wright said. “So, I went to the dictionary. I knew embodiment meant the ‘physical manifestation’ of a thing. I then looked up hope and found it means ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.’
“I put those two words together and concluded that recipients of this award are representative of ‘the physical manifestation of something desired to happen.’”
Wright connected this definition to his own family history, accepting the award on behalf of his great-great grandmother, Irene Taylor. According to Wright, Taylor was born in Virginia in the 1700’s as the property of another human being – eventually being sold to a plantation in Mississippi.
Wright accepts the award as the physical embodiment of Taylor’s hope.
“I am certain it was her hope that her offspring would never endure the inhumane treatment she was exposed to,” Wright said. “Moreover, I’m sure it was her hope that her offspring, generations to come, would be able to accomplish things she could only dream of.”