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October 29, 2018

Christian Rice, a third-year law student at UK College of Law, and T. Fitz Johnson, Esq., a UK Law alumnus, were honored with the Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence Awards at the Lyman T. Johnson Awards Banquet on Friday, October 19 in the Woodford Reserve Room at Kroger Field.

The event, hosted annually by the Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Constituent Group, recognizes deserving African American alumni, faculty, staff and students who exemplify the passion and courage exhibited by Lyman T. Johnson as he led the racial desegregation efforts at UK more than 60 years ago.

“Christian Rice is selected by UK College of Law as recipient of the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer Award because of her exemplary passion to serve a diverse group of individuals through her commitment to the law school community, the community at large, and to her fellow students,” said UK Law Dean David A. Brennen. “She represents a standard by which the College of Law strives for all students to reach their personal best.”

 She is a Provost Scholarship recipient at UK Law, has actively served the legal community, participated in multiple leadership roles, represented a diverse pool of students, and volunteered her time while at UK Law.

Rice has interned for the Fayette Circuit Court Fourth Division, provided pro bono legal services in Eastern Kentucky as part of an alternative spring break initiative, competed in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition at the National Black Law Students Association Conference, and served as president of the Black Law Student Association. She has further served as the Education Chair of the UK Trial Advocacy board and as Student Admission Ambassador. While she has volunteered with numerous organizations, a few to highlight include: First African Baptist Church Expungement Clinic, UK’s Wildcats for H.O.M.E.S. Thanksgiving Dinners, Samaritans Purse Christmas Operation/BLSA Event, Lexington Roots and Heritage Festival, Habitat for Humanity, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, and Boys and Girls Club Mentor.

“Fitz Johnson is selected by UK College of Law as recipient of the Lyman T. Johnson Torch  of Excellence Award for his continued community service, professional accomplishments and vast leadership roles that positively impact a diverse group of people,” said Dean Brennen.

T. Fitz Johnson, Esq., is the Owner/CEO of ASID Group International, LLC and Executive Director of Cumberland Community Church.  He is a former Student Bar Association President at UK Law, and serves on UK Law’s Visiting Committee. As a law student, Johnson led  initiatives on campus to improve student areas of the law building and enhance the engagement of law students and the larger student community. He increased community service efforts within the law school community as well.

His professional accomplishments include being a former owner of The Atlanta  Beat, bringing women’s professional soccer back to Georgia.  Johnson played a key role in funding and building a much-needed stadium to benefit Kennesaw State University’s football team and a women’s professional soccer team as well as serving as a concert and event venue. Additionally, Johnson retired in 2002 as a Major in the U.S. Army. 

Johnson is highly involved in his community, where he currently serves on the System Board of Trustees for WellStar Health System and the Foundation Board of Trustees at Kennesaw State University.  He serves on the Board of Directors for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, was named 2015 Citizen of the Years by  Omega Psi Phi, Inc. at Kennesaw State University, and is a preschool teacher at Cumberland Community Church.

Past UK Law honorees of these prestigious awards include Judge Gary Payne (1999), Jesse Crenshaw (2004), Ollen B. Hinnant (2010), Angela Edwards (2013), John McNeill (2014), Ismaila Ceesay (2016, Melynda Price (2016), Christopher Lewis (2017) and Daniel P. Murphy, Jr. (2017).

The Lyman T. Johnson Awards Banquet is a longstanding tradition at the University of Kentucky.  It was created more than 30 years ago by the UK Black Student Union to honor the hard work, strong leadership and amazing achievements of the minority students on UK’s campus who may otherwise go unrecognized.