CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union has named Shaw High School student Jonathan Lykes as a winner of the 2008 Youth Activist Scholarship contest. The award honors 15 students across the country who have protected the civil liberties of others, particularly the rights of other youth.

Lykes said, “I always use the quote from Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I wanted to start my efforts with the future of this country—youth… I will continue to fight for justice for all people until I am dead. There is no greater calling to live for.”

Jonathan is committed to educational equality, voters’ rights and increased opportunities for all students, regardless of their socio-economic background. Jonathan helped found a statewide action group that promotes student political activism, Youth Voices for Justice, and has traveled across Ohio educating young people and lawmakers alike on complex issues ranging from increasing the minimum wage to educational equality.

Additionally, Jonathan helped the ACLU of Ohio launch their Student Poll Worker Initiative. He worked with ACLU staff and the media to share his experience as a student poll worker and to urge other students to join in. Jonathan’s participation in the initiative was critical in working with county Boards of Elections to do a better job of getting young people involved in the election process.

Jonathan is also a talented spoken word artist, whose many poems celebrate civil liberties, inspiring his peers to take a more critical look at their own rights.

“Jonathan is a wonderful example of a young person who is committed to making his community a better place,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “He has inspired countless young people to be involved and to care about issues that truly matter. It is people like Jonathon that will help bring justice and equality to a new generation.”

Each winner receives a $5,000 college scholarship in recognition of their outstanding contributions. The ACLU began the Youth Activist Scholarship contest in 2000.