MEMPHIS, TN – (September 30, 2014) – The National Civil Rights Museum announced recipients of The Freedom Award whose work has impacted freedom, equality and access in the U.S and globally. This year’s honorees are Charlayne Hunter-Gault, highly acclaimed global civil rights journalist; Robert Moses, award-winning educator and civil rights movement organizer; and Frank Robinson, trailblazing professional baseball player and manager.
Themed “Breaking Barriers, Advancing Freedom,” The Freedom Award will be presented December 2, 2014 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, followed by the Gala Dinner at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
“These honorees truly broke barriers -- each engaged in advancing freedom and equality via their careers, whether it was bringing global attention to the devastation of Apartheid, or the turbulent fight against voter disfranchisement and crippling segregation. ” said Beverly Robertson, president of the National Civil Rights Museum. “Their actions brought needed attention to oppression and drove critical change.”
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, International Freedom Award honoree, is an award-winning journalist with more than 40 years in the industry, working in every medium. She began her journalism career as a reporter for The New Yorker and later worked as a local news anchor for WRC-TV in Washington, DC, and as the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times. As a global journalist, Hunter-Gault worked as NPR’s chief correspondent in Africa and CNN's Johannesburg Bureau Chief and Correspondent. Hunter-Gault joined NPR in 1997 after 20 years with PBS, where she worked as a national correspondent for NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Hunter-Gault was one the heroic students who integrated universities in the American South. In her From Jim Crow America to Apartheid South Africa & Beyond: An Activist Journalists Journey, Hunter-Gault describes her historic entry into the University of Georgia as it’s first black woman student and the road she took through Jim Crow South to get there. She chronicles her rise from there to the top of her profession and the stories she covered along the way including South Africa’s Jim Crow-like system of Apartheid and the victory of its people over the system.
Her numerous honors include two Emmy awards and two Peabody awards – one for her work on Apartheid's People, a NewsHour series about South African life during apartheid, and the other for general coverage of Africa in 1998. Hunter-Gault also was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, the American Women in Radio and Television award and a 2004 National Association of Black Journalists Award for her CNN series on Zimbabwe. Amnesty International awarded Hunter-Gault for her human rights reporting, especially her PBS Series, Rights and Wrongs, a human rights television magazine. In August 2005, she was inducted in the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Robert (Bob) Parris Moses, National Freedom Award honoree, left his life in Harlem in 1961 and went to Mississippi into the fray of a civil rights battle for voter rights. He’s an educator and civil rights activist whose name is synonymous with the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. As a leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Moses traveled to counties in Mississippi to educate and register voters, facing relentless violence and intimidation.
By 1964, Moses had become Co-Director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), an umbrella organization for the major civil rights groups working in Mississippi. As a SNCC leader, he recruited college students from around the country to come to Mississippi to help in the black voter education and registration. Moses was also instrumental in organizing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), a group that challenged the all-white regular Democratic Party delegates at the 1964 convention. Because the Democratic Regulars had for decades excluded African Americans from the political process in Mississippi, the MFDP wanted their elected delegates seated at the convention. Their challenge received national media coverage and highlighted the civil rights struggle in the state, but they were nonetheless prevented from voting.
In 1982, Moses received a MacArthur Fellowship, which he used to found the Algebra Project, an organization that teaches math skills to minority students in impoverished communities and equips parents to advocate for needed educational reforms. Moses expanded the Algebra Project from teaching math in one school, to teaching math methods in over 200 schools across the country by the late 1990s. In 2005 Moses was selected as one of twelve inaugural Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellows by the Fletcher Foundation, which awards substantial grants to scholars and activists working on civil rights issues. In 2006, the Algebra Project received an award from the National Science Foundation to improve the development of materials for Algebra I. Other awards include the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award and the James Bryant Conant Award. Moses was named a Frank H.T Rhodes Professor at Cornell University and a Visiting Scholar at Princeton University.
Frank E Robinson, Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, and Hall of Famer was one of the highest ranking African Americans in Major League Baseball as Executive Vice President of Player Development. He was a ballplayer whose career was so outstanding that he starred in both major leagues, as a player and as a manager. In 21 seasons as an active player, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles, Robinson hit for both power and average, with a career average of .294 hits, 586 home runs, and 1812 runs batted in. Until injuries slowed him down in the mid-1960s, he was a threat on the bases as well averaging just over 17 stolen bases a year between 1957 and 1965. Along the way he helped his teams win five pennants and two World Series titles. He remains the only player in history to win the MVP in both leagues.
Just as much as his prowess on the field, Frank Robinson will be remembered for his role in integrating baseball management. In 1975 he became the first African-American to manage a major league team, the Cleveland Indians of the American League. Five years later he was the first black to manage a National League team, the San Francisco Giants. From 1999 – 2002, Robinson was MLB’s Vice President for On-Field Operations. In 2002, he was named manager of the Montreal Expos, guiding the team to winning seasons in 2002 an 2003. Robinson helped usher in a new era of Major League Baseball in the nation’s capital, leading the Nationals for their first two years. He rejoined MLB as a Special Advisor for Baseball Operations from 2007 – 2009; became a Special Assistant to the Commissioner from 2009 – 2010 and then served as Senior Vice President for Major League Operations until 2011.
In 2005, President Bush honored Robinson with the meritorious Presidential Medal of Freedom and during the 2008 Civil Rights Game in Memphis, he earned the MLB Beacon of Life Award bestowed upon an individual whose life embodies the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.
Freedom Award activities on Tuesday, December 2 include the following:
10:00 a.m. – Public Forum, Temple of Deliverance (369 G.E.Patterson)
6:30 p.m. – Award Ceremony, Cannon Center for the Performing Arts
8:00 p.m. – Gala Dinner, Memphis Cook Convention Center
The Public Forum is free and open to the public. Tickets and tables are available for the Freedom Award ceremony and gala event. Tables are $3,000, $4,500, $6,500, $10,000, $15,000, $25,000 and $35,000. Tables for non-profits are $2,000. To reserve tickets and tables click here or call (901) 526-1813.
About the Freedom Award
The Freedom Award is an annual event presented by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis TN. Since 1991, the Freedom Award has served as a symbol of the ongoing fight for human rights both in America and worldwide. Recipients are celebrated for their tireless contributions in civil and human rights, education, the arts, sports & community service, justice and for their dedication to creating opportunity for the disenfranchised.
The Public Forum is an event focused on area youth and features remarks from Freedom Award honorees. The Keepers of the Dream award is given to local youth who have demonstrated acts of compassion, leadership, courage and service.