Hill Harper and Kirk Whalum join Freedom Award List of Honorees by National Civil Rights Museum; Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson to Serve as Host

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The 20th annual Freedom Awards slate of honorees has added actor Hill Harper and Grammy nominee Kirk Whalum for the acclaimed ceremony at the Cannon Center in Memphis, TN on November 12, 2011.

The 20th Annual Freedom Awards slate of honorees has added actor Hill Harper and Grammy nominee Kirk Whalum for the acclaimed ceremony at the Cannon Center in Memphis, TN on November 12, 2011. Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson who stars in the television comedy The Game and has appeared in several movies will serve as host for the ceremony.

Hill Harper will receive the Legacy Award for Education, joining Education Pioneer honoree Marva Collins. Harper is an alumnus of Harvard Law School and is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the CBS drama television series CSI: NY. His Freedom Award recognizes his non profit foundation Manifest Your Destiny Foundation. The non-profit youth organization was established by Harper for a commitment to work in service of youth – to pass along the lessons he learned and to provide a foundation for young men and women to use as a launching pad to success. His fourth book, The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in its Place, was published in 2011.

Marva Collins is honored for creating the Westside Preparatory School, Chicago, in 1975 with $5,000 of her teachers’ pension fund. Her school took in students who were labeled as borderline learning disabled and problematic. She is thought of as the blueprint for establishing the charter school model.

Kirk Whalum will receive the Legacy Award for the Arts, joining Arts Pioneer honoree Cicely Tyson. Whalum’s musical accomplishments have brought him a total of seven Grammy nominations. In 2010, he was named president and CEO of the Memphis-based Soulsville Foundation, which currently funds and operates three subsidiary organizations: Stax Museum of American Soul Music; the Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School

Other Freedom Award honorees include:

Dr. Bill Frist, Humanitarian Pioneer Award, for his work with African hospitals and schools with the group Samaritan’s Purse. As a former US Senator from Tennessee, he made annual visits to Africa for medical assistance, counsel and was instrumental in getting the U.S. to define the actions in Darfur as genocide. He is the Chair of Hope Through Healing Hands, a non-profit that works for child survival/maternal health, clean water, extreme poverty, and global disease such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and Malaria. He serves on the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, First Lady Michelle Obama's Partnership for a Healthier America and the Let's Move Campaign, Kaiser Family Foundation, Millennium Challenge Corporation and Africare. Frist is recipient of the 2010 Refugees International Humanitarian Award.

Bill Russell, Sports Community Pioneer Award, for his participation in the Civil Rights Movement. He is a recipient of the NBA’s first Civil Rights Award and was the first African American to coach a major sport at the professional level in the US. Member of the NBA Hall of Fame, he fought racism off and on the courts. Russell holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2011.

Alonzo Mourning, Sports Community Legacy Award, for his charities which aid in the development of children and families living in at risk situations. He is the founder of the Overtown Youth Center in Miami, Florida for the enrichment of children. Former NBA standout launched Zo’s Fund for Life to raise funds for glomerulosclerosis, which he was diagnosed with during his NBA career. Co-founder of Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization, which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and inspires millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.

Danny Glover, Pioneer Award, for his support of various humanitarian and civil rights causes including the United Farm Workers. In the 1960s, as a student at San Francisco State University, Glover was a member of the Black Students Union which, along with the American Federation of Teachers, collaborated in a five-month student-led strike to establish a Department of Black Studies. The strike was the longest student walkout in U.S. history. It helped create the first Department of Black Studies and the first School of Ethnic Studies in the U.S.

Susan L. Taylor, Legacy Award, former editor-in-chief and editorial director for Essence Magazine for 27 years, was the first and only African American woman to be recognized by the Magazine Publishers of America with the Henry Johnson Fisher Award and the first to be inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. She founded the National Cares Mentoring Movement, in 2006, to recruit one million adults to help secure children who are in peril and losing ground.

NAACP, Pioneer Award, the NAACP is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights organization. Since being founded in 1909, the NAACP has continued to live its mission: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. One of the NAACP's greatest legal victories was in 1954, when Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys won Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In this landmark decision, the Supreme Court held that segregation in public education violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Southern Poverty Law Center, Legacy Award, internationally known for its tolerance education programs, legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups, militias and extremist organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, they employ a three-pronged strategy to battle racial and social injustice.

The following Icons of the American Civil Rights Movement will also be honored:

Rev. C. T. Vivian helped organize the Nashville Sit-Ins, Freedom Riders movement and the March on Washington.

Mrs. Leola Brown Montgomery, the widow of Rev. Oliver Brown, the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.

John Seigenthaler served as the administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during the 1961 Freedom Riders movement, chief negotiator for the government and, in 1991, founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

Dolores Huerta is the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. She was with Senator Robert Kennedy moments before his assassination in Los Angeles, in 1968.

Rev. Ed. King worked closely with the Mississippi Movement leader Medgar Evers and was a key leader in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party with Fannie Lou Hamer.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of Rainbow Push organization, worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was with King on April 4, 1968. He is known for organizing across racial, gender and social lines for justice.

Rev. James Lawson studied the non-violence principles of Gandhi, which became Dr. King’s mantra. He trained and worked with Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for Freedom Riders and Sit-In Movements.

Rev. Samuel Kyles worked closely with the Memphis Movement. He served on the Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom and he was with Dr. King in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Kyles has maintained his involvement with civil rights work since the 1960s.

The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. Previous Freedom Award recipients include President Nelson Mandela, President Bill Clinton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Mikhail Gorbachav, President Oscar Arias, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Andrew Young, Stevie Wonder, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Bono, Myrlie Evers Williams, Julius Erving, Earvin Magic Johnson, Eva Longoria, Dorothy Cotton, Colin Powell, Julian Bond, Al Gore, B.B. King, Wangari Maathai and Elie Weisel. http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org

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