Canterbury Senior Wins Fort Wayne Social Justice Award

Canterbury Reports
March 22, 2021

Canterbury's Chris Diwis '21 is using his voice to make a difference in our community and our world. His essay, The Void of Black Men: A Response to Brent Staples' Black Men and Public Space, first received recognition in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Now, he is receiving recognition for the essay as a winner of the 2021 Social Justice Advocacy Award from Downton Fort Wayne, Art This Way, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

"At age 17, my work is based on wanting to make a change in the world." Chris says, "My motivation for writing this was in response to Brent Staples; he was a mentor for me. I was born and raised here in Fort Wayne, and there are many places that I feel safe and comfortable, like my school and the gym. There are other times when I am the only person in the room that looks like me, and sometimes I feel anxiety because of that. I was so inspired by a teacher at Canterbury that shared a personal, vulnerable story about his life. It inspired me to tell my own story as a black man. Because of his vulnerability, I had the courage to share and write this."

The Fort Wayne Social Justice Award came about after downtown demonstrations in May 2020 led to broken windows, which were then covered in plywood. Art this Way, a program of the Downtown Improvement District, organized and sponsored a public call for local artists to use these temporary installations as an artistic "canvas." With the permission of building owners, artists began to paint images and messages of hope, love, inclusion, and resilience around the themes of social justice. After removal from the buildings, these plywood paint-outs were preserved and assembled into the collection titled Conversations. Students in the region were given the artistic challenge of using the Conversations collection as inspiration for their pieces.

Diwis' essay is currently on display at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and can be viewed until April 10, 2021. Congratulations, Chris!