Free State junior awarded 2022 Princeton Prize in Race Relations

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Soledad Edison, 17, has been inspiring conversations of equity in the classroom since middle school. Now in his junior year at Free State High School, Edison has a passion for connecting with diverse people and finding solutions to issues facing marginalized students. 

For his work, Edison was awarded the 2022 Princeton Prize in Race Relations for the Greater Kansas City area. The prize, sponsored and awarded by Princeton University and alumni of the university, is given annually to students across the country who have “worked to advance racial equity in their communities,” according to its website.


Edison feels those who strive for equitable opportunities for one social group must strive to support all social issues simultaneously.

As someone who identifies as a Black, queer young man, Edison said he has developed a deep appreciation of “intersectionality.” The term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a civil rights activist and scholar, to describe how individuals and groups of people experience overlapping systems of oppressions based on their various identities.

“I live my life with these multiple facets of myself and I can’t pick them apart and separate them, so they’re always gonna be kind of intertwined. I really try to bring that into my work because people have multiple layers to themselves and they all deserve to be celebrated and appreciated,” Edison said.

When Edison applied for the scholarship award back in January, he did not expect to see an email notifying him that he’d won while scrolling through his inbox in March.

Judges specifically outlined Edison’s “outstanding efforts to advance racial equity and promote understanding” for his work as a leader of Free State’s Equity Council, as well as his “vocal, intentional efforts to provide students with exposure to a more inclusive, robust social studies curriculum,” according to a news release.

In addition to being awarded a $1,000 prize, Edison will attend the 2022 Princeton Prize Symposium on Race Relations in April along with other regional winners. The event is virtual this year because of COVID-19 precautions, but usually award recipients would be invited to the university in Princeton, New Jersey, for an in-person symposium.

Through his leadership in the Equity Council, Edison has participated in conversations with school administration and the school board regarding unequal policies. Edison said the group has been able to share their perspectives as students on issues, such as the way U.S. history is taught in school and the freedom of students to express their gender identities.


Because the Equity Council is a newly formed organization at Free State, Edison said members are focusing mainly on discussion, inclusivity, and establishing the groundwork for next year.

The Equity Council began with one of Edison’s English teachers who had an anti-racist reading group that a couple students were involved in. Now the group consists of 13 or 14 students collaborating to question inequities in the education system.

Edison is allowing time to find himself, and he is constantly learning. His current favorite author is Angela Davis, a Black power and feminist revolutionist, and he is committed to reading as much anti-racism content as possible.

“I am doing a lot of reading and just building myself into what it means to be an activist and what it means to be equitable in my own life,” Edison said.

Along with reading, Edison loves playing the guitar and produces songs with his friend in his free time. He incorporates neo soul, indie and jazz sounds influenced by artists like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. 

Beyond the impact he makes in high school, Edison has aspirations of contributing to the neurology field. His dream university is the University of California San Diego (UCSD) because of its exceptional cognitive science programs.

“I want to learn and research how cognitive bias and unintentional bias affect Black and Brown children in education and how we can improve that and how trauma affects education,” Edison said. “Stories that are not inclusive bring more harm to the psychology of marginalized communities and it has been severely detrimental to the overall health of those communities.”

As he approaches his senior year of high school next year, Edison wants to ensure the conversations continue after he graduates.

“I just really want to give a huge shout out to the people who are in the Council with me because they keep me positive and we motivate each other,” Edison said. “We know the work here is not finished once we leave. The work is still gonna get done and there will always be new people — fresh hearts and fresh flames to bolster that fire.”

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Note: This post has been updated from a previous version.

Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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