Lily Sweet King, the recipient of the Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers Community Engagement Scholarship, quoted former president Ronald Reagan in her winning essay: “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”
Lily Sweet, 20, of Tallahassee, Fla., described a moving essay about how her commitment to community service was galvanized, propelling a painfully shy high school student into action. In 2018, she marched with the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting and that became a pivotal moment.
“I could be a spectator and watch as others took a stand against injustice, or I could be a participant and fight for what I believe in,” Lily Sweet wrote.
She had been disturbed by how much racial and religious prejudice she witnessed in her high school. So Lily Sweet combined her love of Southern hospitality with her desire for change to organize a high school student version of The Longest Table. In September 2018, students from 10 Tallahassee high schools joined to have dinner and discourse.
The event was such a success that it continues today, even as its organizer graduated high school and began studying at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford. Lily Sweet expects to graduate in May 2022 with a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications.
As much as Lily loved the community at Ole Miss, she was shocked when Neo-Confederates marched on the historic area called The Grove.
“I really didn’t want to speak out, but despite my crippling phobia, that little inner voice inside me began to scream,’’ Lily Sweet wrote.
She moved past her social fears and organized a Longest Table event that took place the same year. Lily Sweet sought the support of the school chancellor and suggested they hold a Longest Table event on that very spot, The Grove — “The very place where segregationists gathered to prevent James Meredith from integrating the school and what some historians call the last battle of the Civil War,’’ she wrote.
Some 400 people attended. The 2020 event was canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Lily Sweet is determined that this will become a tradition at Ole Miss.
We at Chalik & Chalik fight for justice every day, providing our clients with what they deserve. Students like Lily Sweet make us hopeful about the future of our country and its ability to move past prejudice.
For more information on our Community Engagement Scholarship, visit this link.