High Point Resident Zaki Khalifa Named 2019 Human Rights Medal Recipient

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 1, 2019) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has selected long-time High Point, North Carolina resident Zaki Khalifa as recipient of the 2019 Human Rights medal. 

Khalifa received the award during the 59th Sit-In Anniversary, 7 a.m., Feb. 1, 2019, honoring the courageous, non-violent acts of the A&T Four – Jibreel Khazan (Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond – who sat down at a local Woolworth’s all-white lunch counter, igniting a national movement.

Born, raised and educated in Pakistan, Khalifa immigrated to the United States at the age of 30 to explore business opportunities. A professor and friend suggested High Point’s international furniture market would be a perfect home for his planned rug business. Soon thereafter, Khalifa opened Zaki Oriental Rugs, offering the nation’s largest selection of fine handmade rugs.

Since then, Khalifa has emerged as a generous civic leader and philanthropist in North Carolina and his native country. He and his wife, Rashida Wawda, have supported a free health care clinic for indigent patients in Burlington, as well as economic development and opportunity within the city, including donating one of his former business locations for use by various organizations. 

In late 2018, Khalifa announced he would sell his High Point business location, with its remaining inventory, and donate the millions in proceeds to a Pakistani organization in support of programs addressing poverty. Further, he would move to Lahore, Pakistan and spend eight months of the year volunteering as a teacher in the schools his business donation will support. The moves are part of his plan to donate 80 percent of his net worth to charity.

Khalifa has also demonstrated a willingness to stand against discrimination. He often speaks publicly on diversity, advocating for tolerance, acceptance and assimilation among people of different cultures.

In 2015, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina, the BB&T Distinguished Citizen of the Year and the High Point Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advocate of the Year. He was also chosen as one of the top 50 Asian-Americans in Business in the United States by the Asian American Business Development Center.

The award is given annually by N.C. A&T to recognize individuals who have endeavored to correct social injustice and have significantly contributed to the betterment of the world.