Aurelius Miles Francisco of Oklahoma City, a University of Oklahoma student double majoring in political science and in African and African-American Studies, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Carl Albert Award, presented each year to the outstanding senior in the OU College of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to graduating in May with two bachelor’s degrees, Francisco will also earn minors in women’s and gender studies and in international studies. After graduation, he plans to partake in a year-long fellowship revolving around his passions for justice, policy and community before carrying his education forward in graduate school.
During his college career, Francisco has received numerous scholarships, honors and awards, including selection to the OU Pe-Et Society and being named a Cortez A.M. Ewing Fellowship recipient. He was honored by Sooner Parents as the Overall Outstanding Senior for the University and the African and African-American Studies Student Leader of the Year. He was also named the Robert D. Lemon Social Justice Award recipient by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department.
Francisco is a dedicated campus student leader focusing on issues related to justice and equity. In 2018, he co-founded the Black Emergency Response Team, which has played a pivotal role in educating the campus community. He is also strongly involved with the OU Gender + Equality Center, where he works as the programming intern and event chair for the LGBTQ+ Program Advisory Board and a Step In, Speak Out Peer Educator.
He is also involved in Uprooted and Rising, a food justice organization and movement working toward a vision of food sovereignty. In addition, Francisco is the co-founder and co-executive director of the Foundation for Liberating Minds, a nonprofit organization that seeks justice for the historically marginalized by fostering inclusive anti-oppressive educational practices.
His research focuses on various phenomena impacting marginalized communities, including the criminal punishment system and food sovereignty. He spent the summer of 2019 working as a public health research intern with the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign in Washington, D.C. He has been an honors research assistant for OU Associate Professor Julia Ehrhardt and a research intern for culinary historian Adrian Miller.
The Carl Albert Award, the most prestigious honor given to a student by the OU College of Arts and Sciences, is based on academic performance, moral force of character and promise of future service to the state and nation. First presented in 1966, the award was established to honor Carl Albert, the late OU alumnus and U.S. Speaker of the House, for his distinguished undergraduate career and national service. Julian Rothbaum, former state regent and longtime friend of Albert, endowed the award in 1965.