February 6, 2018 (Dallas, Texas) - The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) selected Angie Thomas '11, Belhaven University alum and author of the bestseller The Hate U Give, as the 2018 CCCU Young Alumni Award winner.
The award, presented to her February 1, during the 2018 CCCU International Forum in Dallas, Texas, is presented to individuals who have achieved uncommon leadership or success in a way that reflects the values of Christian higher education.
Using relatable characters and engaging prose, her book addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honestly. It is now a #1 New York Times bestseller and has received starred reviews from eight literary journals, among the most ever received for a young adult novel, and is in the process of being made into a major motion picture.
I am in awe of the enormous leap Angela has made as a writer-moving quickly from the classrooms of Belhaven to the corridors of contemporary literary significance, said Belhaven University President Roger Parrott.Her artistic gifts, passion to challenge readers, and grace-filled Christian worldview blend seamlessly to reach a wide audience.Through her fiction, Angela advocates compellingly for justice and racial reconciliation.I'm thrilled that such a God-honoring young leader is primed to be a voice of influence for a generation to come.
Started as a senior project at Belhaven, Thomas wrote The Hate U Give to encourage conversations among young people about race, poverty and privilege. When I attended Belhaven, I was a lot like my main character, Starr, living in two different worlds - my mostly black, poor neighborhood and Belhaven, which was in an upper-class neighborhood and where most of the students were white.
Thomas continued, When a young man named Oscar Grant lost his life in Oakland, CA at the hands of police officers, the conversations were vastly different. While some of my classmates sympathized for Oscar, others didn't understand why there was so much unrest over his death. I wrote the short story that later became The Hate U Give as a way to help them understand.
In the midst of national conversations about important issues of race, power, and privilege in our society, it is crucial that Christians not stay silent, but rather speak truth and acknowledge the disparate treatment, inequality, and sin that is all too prevalent, said CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra. This is what makes Angie's contribution vital. The response to her book makes clear that she has found a way to tell a powerful story that is influencing the conversation.
Thomas credits her time at Belhaven for helping her shape her view of the world as well as her writing talents. Attending a Christian college helped me ground my faith at a time where I needed it the most, and it continues to be my foundation, she said. As a writer, I don't shy away from topics, even if they make people uncomfortable, in large part due to my faith- Jesus didn't do easy work, nor did he come to make people comfortable. This is something I came to understand more while I was at Belhaven.