Student Named Recipient of John Lewis Youth Leadership Award

National Association of Secretaries of State honors Bobby Hudson

Bobby Hudson III, a senior public policy leadership major, is a recipient a recipient of this year’s John Lewis Youth Leadership Award. Hudson’s organizational efforts on campus and in his hometown of Gulfport were noted as factors in his award. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Association of Secretaries of State has named Bobby Hudson III, a University of Mississippi senior public policy leadership major, as a recipient of the John Lewis Youth Leadership Award.

Originated in 2021, the annual award pays tribute to the achievements of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who was one of the original Freedom Riders for the civil rights movement in 1961, by recognizing a gifted, civic-minded young person in each state who demonstrates leadership abilities, has a passion for social justice and improves the quality of life in their community. 

“Words can’t express the gratitude that I have in being recognized as one of Mississippi’s recipients for the John Lewis Youth Leadership Award,” Hudson said. “To be honored with an award with a namesake like Congressman John Lewis is truly a humbling and hopeful experience. 

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson (left) presents Ole Miss senior Bobby Hudson III with his John Lewis Youth Leadership Award at the state Capitol. Submitted photo

“The essence of this award to me confirms my philosophy, that it is now time as young people that we pick up the torch and carry on with the ‘good trouble,’ as Congressman Lewis would say, that the trailblazers before us started. I encourage every young person to be a change agent, and this award to me is just another way to inspire other young people to become more civic-minded.”

The Gulfport native also received the first-ever Diversity Innovator Award in 2021 from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, founded the university’s Society for Blacks in Political Studies and helped create the Blacks in Political Studies Summit for Career and Professional Development. 

“Bobby’s heart is geared toward serving the needs of others, especially those underserved,” said Weixing Chen, chair and professor of public policy leadership. “What he has done and achieved at Ole Miss reflects the true values of servant leadership.”

He also received national recognition as one of Time Magazine’s 30 in 2030: A Generation Creating Change and has served as a member of the university’s Climate Survey Working Group, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement’s DEI Student Advisory Council, College of Liberal Arts Student DEI Advisory Council and the 60th Anniversary of Integration Committee.

Jody Holland, associate professor of public policy leadership, said Holland truly is deserving of this award.

“He is a dynamic, passionate leader who exerts energy to develop a stronger community, either on campus or off campus,” Holland said.

“Bobby’s leadership style enables him to connect and influence others to achieve a common vision that enhances this world. As a leader, Bobby’s impact on others is profound, and I look forward to watching him continue to develop as a leader.”

While he is unsure of what his next steps are, Hudson said he will continue to push for change in his community.

“My main goal is to stay right here in Mississippi and ignite changes throughout our communities,” he said. “I plan to be involved in municipal and state government, as well as continued community organizing and public service programs.

“Most importantly, my postgraduation plan is to continue to help move Mississippi forward.”