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Memphis, TN, July 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Today the National Civil Rights Museum announced three individuals who will be honored with The Freedom Award, the museum’s signature event that pays tribute to outstanding individuals for their significant contributions to civil and human rights.

The Freedom Award will be presented October 30, 2019 at the Orpheum Theatre. The Ceremony will be preceded by the Pre-Show Gala at the Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts.

The 28th Freedom Award honorees are HAFSAT ABIOLA, GLORIA STEINEM and JOHN LEGEND.

HAFSAT ABIOLA is a Nigerian human rights, civil rights and democracy activist. She is President of Women in Africa. (WIA), the first global platform dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women. WIA supports, accompanies and contributes to the promotion of a new generation of African women to the service of an inclusive and innovative Africa. Through her non-profit, the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), she has worked to promote exemplary women leaders and build pathways to public service for them. Motivated by women’s strength, Hafsat Abiola believes that the challenges facing the continent of Africa offer opportunities for women’s leadership to emerge. Her work is a tribute to her parents who lost their lives while leading the democracy movement that brought an end to military rule in Nigeria in the ‘90s. 

GLORIA STEINEM is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She travels globally as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of gender and race caste systems, in non-violent conflict resolution, in the cultures of indigenous peoples, and in organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She co-founded the Women's Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in non-sexist, multi-racial children's education, and the National Women's Political Caucus, a group founded to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in elected and appointed office. She is the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, a national multi-racial, multi-issue fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women and girls. She was a member of the Beyond Racism Initiative, a three-year effort on the part of activists and experts from South Africa, Brazil and the United States to compare the racial patterns and to learn cross-nationally.

JOHN LEGEND is a leading recording artist who uses his influence and resources to promote social justice and equality. It was for this purpose that he launched the Show Me Campaign in 2007. Drawing inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries, John Legend believes that all children deserve a quality education that interrupts the cycle of poverty and allows them to fulfill their full potential.   His recording “Preach” targets a broken criminal justice system begging for reform.  His mini-series Can’t Just Preach follows survivors of tragedy as they tell their stories of resilience and change-making activism. 

“These three honorees have devoted themselves to lifting communities of women, protecting our youngest and most vulnerable and have effectively utilized the power of community organizing to promote change,” said Terri Lee Freeman, National Civil Rights Museum President. “They have drawn on the concept of peaceful protest, recognizing the freedom fighters and warriors that have gone before them.  We are excited to share their stories and recognize their achievements.”

The Freedom Award host is Lamman Rucker, an actor, educator, activist and entrepreneur whose career platform has been used to influence, educate and ignite communities through artistic and academic innovation.

This year’s Freedom Award will pay tribute to the Green Book, or the Negro Travelers’ Green Book, that identified safe accommodations and services for African Americans traveling during the segregated Jim Crow Era. It was a resource that listed the Lorraine Motel, the current site of the museum.  

Over the past 27 years, the National Civil Rights Museum has presented The Freedom Award to many of the most lauded civil and human rights leaders and history makers including Coretta Scott King, President Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rosa Parks, Bono, Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Lech Walesa, President Oscar Arias, President Mary Robinson, Paul Rusesabagina, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Tom Brokaw, Frank Robinson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Bernard Lafayette, Marlo Thomas, Hill Harper, Marva Collins, Usher Raymond, Bill Frist, Dolores Huerta, Rev. James Lawson, Cicely Tyson, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, Kirk Whalum, Southern Poverty Law Center, Susan Taylor, Rev. C.T. Vivian, John Seigenthaler, the NAACP, Alonzo Mourning, Danny Glover, Julius “Dr. J” Ervin, Eva Longoria Parker, Dr. Dorothy Cotton, Dr. Wangari Maathai, Vice President Al Gore, Diane Nash, B.B. King, John Hope Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Congressman John Lewis, Maxine Smith, Rev. Benjamin Hooks, Julian Bond, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young, Jackie Robinson, Frank Robinson, Elie Wiesel, Oprah Winfrey, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Geoffrey Canada, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Ruby Bridges-Hall, Ava DuVernay, Swin Cash, Benjamin Crump, Tawakkol Karman, Soledad O’Brian, The Honorable Damon Keith, Bryan  Stevenson, William F. Winter, Rev. Bernice A. King, Hugh Masekela, Morris Dees, Vice President Joe Biden, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and Pitt Hyde.

The Freedom Award presenting sponsors are International Paper, FedEx Corporation, Hyde Family Foundations, Ford Motor Company and First Tennessee Foundation.

Freedom Award activities on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 include the following:

10:00 a.m.     Student Forum            Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church

5:00 p.m.       Pre-Show Gala             Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts and Education

7:30 p.m.       Award Ceremony         Orpheum Theatre 

The Freedom Award ceremony and Pre-Show Gala are ticketed events.  Sponsorship levels range from $3,000 to $35,000. Individual tickets are $200, $300 and $450. Tickets and sponsorships are available at freedomaward.org.

The Student Forum is a free student and educator forum during which the Keeper of the Dream Award is presented.  Nominations for this student award are open until September 20. See the website for info.

Connie Dyson
National Civil Rights Museum

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