You are here

State Honoree

James Calister

New Jersey

James Calister, 17, of Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, recognized a need to promote an attitude of acceptance and racial harmony in an area that was slowly changing from an all-white, affluent community to one consisting of residents from many races and economic backgrounds. Prejudice and fear drove many long-time residents out of town, and heightened anger among many adults and youth. James began attending community planning meetings and Board of Education meetings, where he learned how to influence decision-makers to help in his fight against racism. He joined the Racial Balance Task Force, and won an election for Student Council President based on his promise to improve relations within the schools and the community. In addition, James spends much of his free time helping to coordinate various community and school-wide events, such as Diversity Day and Martin Luther King Day, which help to promote diversity. "As long as others continue the work that I and others like me have begun, eventually there will be a fundamental shift in the community's outlook on diversity," he said.