Candler student Karl Kroger is one of six Emory students to receive the university's 2009 Humanitarian Award. Emory president James Wagner conferred the awards on the six recipients at a ceremony in Winship Ballroom on February 3. Chosen from a pool of more than 60 nominees, Kroger was recognized for his work as an advocate for Troy Davis, a current death row inmate convicted of the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.
Davis was convicted in 1991 on the basis of now-disclaimed eyewitness testimonies. Since the trial, seven of the nine prosecution witnesses who had linked Davis to the killing have recanted or contradicted their original trial testimony. On October 24, 2008, three days before Davis's scheduled execution date, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of execution in order to review the case. The stay remains in effect at this time.
Kroger has organized a broad network of supporters across campus and community lines to bring attention to the Davis case, spearheading banner drops from railroad bridges and overpasses to raise awareness and leading prayer vigils on the steps of the state capitol.
"My faith has compelled me to fight for justice for Troy Davis and many others," Kroger said. "Being a part of a movement of people with similar convictions has been inspiring and life-giving. Through a man on death row I experienced personal transformation and saw social change."
Candler student body president Kim Jackson nominated Kroger for the award, stating, "His compassion was most evidenced in the prayer vigils [for Troy Davis] that he led on the steps of the capitol. The songs, prayers, and words that he lifted up on those cool windy nights were full of love and compassion. Karl has a wonderful balance of righteous indignation and compassion¿a balance that propelled us to fight for justice on the one hand, and pray for peace on the other."
Jan Love, dean of Candler School of Theology, seconded Jackson's comments. "We rejoice in this high honor bestowed on Karl Kroger. An extraordinary spirit of grace, love, mercy and justice pervades his leadership at Candler. As with many of our students, we in the faculty and administration know more of Christ's presence when we witness Karl's engagement in the community, and for that, we give thanks to God."
Though much of Jackson's nomination letter speaks to Kroger's work on the Troy Davis case, she points out that his activism extends beyond this single issue. Kroger is president of Candler's Social Concerns Network, and "he has dedicated much of his life to advocating for the poor and the oppressed. Furthermore, he's done a remarkable job of convincing his friends and fellow students to join him in that work," said Jackson.
Recipients of the Emory Humanitarian Award are nominated by students, staff, faculty, or alumni and are chosen based on the criteria:
The award is sponsored by the Division of Campus Life, Office of Student Leadership and Service, Campus Dining Services, and the Emory University Bookstore.