When the 36th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee announced the 2021 Unsung Hero Award winners, Falk College was pleased to see that Evan Weissman was to be honored posthumously.
Weissman passed away on April 9, 2020, but his passion and work with social initiatives continues to serve as an inspiration for many.
The Unsung Hero awards are given to community members, students, faculty and staff who have made positive impacts on the lives of others but are not widely recognized for their contributions. The awards were created to honor Dr. King’s vision of creating positive change in a troubled world.
Weissman grew up in Syracuse and was passionate about his community. He joined the faculty of Falk College in 2012 and played a key role in creating the food studies program, for which he was the undergraduate director. He was also involved in Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute and the Maxwell School’s Department of Geography as an affiliated faculty member. Weissman put participatory learning and engagement at the forefront of his teaching and was also focused on equity, diversity and inclusion.
“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished through his teachings and life example, Evan Weissman similarly challenged his students to create positive change, inspiring them and all who worked with him to create that change through his passionate and tireless leadership and example,” says Rick Welsh, professor and chair of the Falk College’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.
Weissman’s lasting impact on his community can be observed through his countless contributions to various organizations, movements and publications. He worked with My Lucky Tummy, WAER’s City Limits project, Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance, and countless others as an expert on food justice. “A tireless advocate for equity in the food system, his local work continues to serve as a national best practices model for bringing food justice to communities across urban America,” says Welsh.
“Professor Weissman had an unwavering commitment to social justice and worked through both scholarship and practice to achieve more just local food systems. As a mentor, he imparted a strong belief that revolutionary food systems change is possible. I share the recurring question Dr. Weissman asked his students and himself: ‘How can we use food as a tool for social change?’” says Welsh.
The award winners will be recognized at the 36th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The event will be held online on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. featuring keynote speaker Ruby Bridges. Registration for the celebration is open to all and available on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration website. This years other Unsung Hereos include Bobbierre Heard, Dr. Frederick C. Gilbeaux, and Sameeha Saied ’21.
~ Adapted from a Syracuse University story by Whitney Welbaum ’23 published on Monday, January 25, 2021.