A descendant of those imprisoned at Heart Mountain has dedicated her life to the remembrance of what happened to her great grandparents. Now, she will be awarded the Shepard Symposium Community Member Award for her dedication.
Aura Newlin is a 4th generation Wyomingite, and she is the secretary of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation's board of directors.
Born in Riverton, Newlin's family story drove her to become an advocate for racial justice. Her great grandparents and six of their children were imprisoned at Heart Mountain during World War II.
Newlin said receiving the Shepard Symposium Award is especially significant to her because she was a freshman at the University of Wyoming when Mathew Shepard was killed.
"I certainly [have] already been on a sort of social justice path," said Newlin. "But the horror of Matthew Shepherd's murder and seeing the community come together, after that, I think really solidified the social justice path for myself."
Newlin has devoted her life to work toward the remembrance of what happened to her great grandparents, along with the 120,000 people of Japanese descent that were incarcerated, because of their race.
"To preserve their memory, but also to educate current and future generations so that other targeted groups won't be discriminated against in similar ways," said Newlin.
Newlin said she's honored to receive the grant and is excited to continue to have a voice at the national level to work towards racial equity for everyone.The Community Member Award is given to individuals who demonstrate leadership by acting as an advocate, and role model, for their social justice cause in Wyoming.