Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award 2011
Dr. S. Allen Counter: Award Recipient
The recipient of the Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award in 2011 is S. Allen Counter, DMSc, PhD. Dr. Counter is a multi-faceted man who has gained the titles of neuroscience professor, mentor, humanitarian — and Consul General of Sweden in Boston and New England. In 1981, former University President, Derek C. Bok and Reverend of Christian Morals, Peter J. Gomes appointed Dr. S. Allen Counter Director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations. The Foundation seeks to improve intercultural understanding, equality and peace within the University by sponsoring and conducting over 200 student and faculty programs each year. He received academic training at Case Western Reserve University and post-doctoral studies in Neurobiology at Harvard University. Dr. Counter also earned the Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) degree from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
In line with Harvard Foundation’s vision of sponsoring annual programs and activities designed to promote interracial and intercultural awareness, Dr. Counter contributed to the relief efforts in Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January 2010. The efficiency of the Harvard Medical School relief trip to Haiti was in part attributed to Dr. Counter’s friendship with President Leonel Fernández Reyna of Dominican Republic, who provided two helicopters in support of Dr. Counter’s mission.
As a neurophysiologist and member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, Dr. Counter conducts both clinical and basic research studies on nerve and muscle physiology, auditory physiology, and neurophysiologic diagnosis of brain-injured children and adults. Presently, his scientific research focuses on the neurobiological effects of lead and mercury exposure, magnetic resonance imaging of the auditory and vestibular (balance) systems and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Serving as a mentor for students, Dr. Counter has taken groups to assist his medical relief team on trips to Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and to remote areas of South America. As a scholar of African-American ethnography, Counter has conducted scientific research and cultural studies among the indigenous people of the Suriname South American rainforest. He has also traveled to the Andean mountains, tribal villages in northern Togo, and visited the indigenous people of Northwest Greenland, the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Dr. Counter is truly a citizen of the world who lives with and fights for the rights of indigenous people against those who exploit them, take their land and destroy their culture. His interest and adaptability with people of different cultures, backgrounds and religions, has gained him the respect of countries worldwide. This distinction is evidenced in his appointment as the first Black Consul General in an American city by the country of Sweden.
Currently, Dr. Allen Counter is working to establish the first memorial to African-American slaves. He has been petitioning President Barack Obama about the establishment of the American Slavery Memorial on the historic Washington Mall in D.C.