Award Winners

2020 Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award winners are among the Griffon community.

The St. Joseph YWCA and NAACP awarded Dr. Melinda Kovacs as well as Derek Evans and Andrea Cole, of Our Revolution St. Joseph.

The Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice award is a way for the YWCA and NAACP to recognize individuals or organizations that help seek racial justice in the St. Joseph community. The award is named after Kelsy Beshears, a local St. Joseph resident who had many contributions to racial equity and justice in the 20th century This is the 24th year the award has been given.

Dr. Melinda Kovacs has been an advocate for a variety of equity issues, primarily focusing on racial equity issues both on and off campus. Kovacs said receiving this award was incredibly meaningful. 

“I have rarely been as proud of anything as I am of this award,” Kovacs said. “This is the community in which I live and the community in which I work, and it’s the community in which I tried to do something, and that being recognized by these two very significant nonprofits just means the world to me.”

Off campus, Kovacs created a group with her husband called SUPPER (St. Joseph United People Promoting the Equality of Races), a community organization that meets once a month to discuss various issues of race, racism, and race relations.

Kovacs said, “The fact that this award exists in the St. Joseph community signals that St. Joseph as a community has an understanding that there are issues that we need to work on and that this work needs to take place and that this work is taking place.”

Along with Kovacs, the Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award was given to Derek Evans and Andrea Cole, chair and vice chair of Our Revolution in St. Joseph.

“We are a local nonpartisan progressive organization,” Evans said. “We focus mostly on electoral politics. So trying to get progressive candidates elected but also progressive issues at the ballot, for example, we collected thousands of signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot.”

Evans said moving forward, the goal is to enact change relating to racial justice and other justices as well.

“We’re grateful to be rewarded but there’s still plenty of work to be done,” Evans said.

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