GREENSBORO — High Point business owner Zaki Khalifa is the 2019 winner of N.C. A&T’s Human Rights Medal.
A native of Pakistan, Khalifa immigrated to United States at age 30 and eventually established a business, Zaki Oriental Rugs in High Point, that's reportedly the nation's largest dealer of handmade rugs.
Khalifa has supported a free health care clinic in Burlington and donated former business locations to High Point civic groups. In 2018, Khalifa said he would give his remaining business to a Pakistani charity that builds orphanages and educates underprivileged children. The charity plans to sell the building and its inventory.
"His passionate and commitment to making a difference is evident," Chancellor Harold Martin said during the presentation ceremony Friday at A&T’s annual Sit-In Anniversary Breakfast Celebration.
In remarks at the ceremony, Khalifa said: "What I have been taught by my teachers along the way is that ignorance is dangerous (and) prejudice is dangerous ... If we cannot make sure that we eliminate all of it from our lives entirely, we should at least work to reduce each one of those characteristics from our lives every single day."
The university established the medal in 2001 to honor the A&T Four — the four A&T freshmen who launched the sit-in movement at the Woolworth lunch counter in downtown Greensboro in 1960. The award honors people who have fought for social justice and tried to improve the world.
The Human Rights Medal is one of A&T’s top honors, and the university awards it annually. Past winners include Replacements Ltd CEO Bob Page (2018), former Guilford County School Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green (2016), U.S. Reps. John Lewis (2015) and Eva Clayton (2014) and civil rights leader the Rev. William Barber (2010).