2012 Freedom Award Winners Give Vision, Voice and Life to Beneficiaries

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The National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award honorees include Bernard Lafayette, Muhammad Yunus, Marlo Thomas and The Three Doctors.

The National Civil Rights Museum today announced the selection of Freedom Award recipients who will be honored during the Freedom Award event slated for Tuesday, October 16, 2012.

Freedom Award honorees include: Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize recipient; Dr. Bernard Lafayette, one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s lieutenants; Marlo Thomas, a national humanitarian who is building on the proud legacy of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital founded by her father, Danny Thomas; and, The Three Doctors from inner city New Jersey who as teenagers made a pact to become doctors, and did.

“For the past four or five years the National Civil Rights Museum has had Muhammad Yunus on our radar to receive the Freedom Award because of his successful work in creating micro-loans for poor people,” notes Beverly Robertson. “We are delighted to be able to attract Mr. Yunus to Memphis because his work is a model for so many nations around the world.”

Muhammad Yunus created the concept of Grameen Bank – banking without collateral – for the poorest of the poor. The bank offers small loans for job creation and self-employment for the rural poor, especially poor women. Grameen Bank currently has 1,781 branches and provides credit to 5.6 million poor people in 60,815 villages in Bangladesh. For his efforts Yunus and the bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and will this year receive the International Freedom Award.

As the country moves further from the turbulent days of the 60’s, the memory of those who fought so bravely for freedom and justice is dulled. This year’s National Freedom Award recipient will serve as a stark reminder of tremendous struggle and sacrifice of those who were willing to stand up and speak out. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, the National Freedom Award honoree, has been a longtime minister, educator, lecturer and civil rights activist.

In 1960 he helped to lead the Nashville Student Sit-In Movement, and sought to effect change through these non-violence principles. Later that year, he assisted in the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). His other contributions to the Movement include leadership roles in the 1961 Freedom Rides, the 1965 Selma Movement, the Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962-1965, the 1996 Chicago Open Housing Movement, and as National Program Administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He later was appointed as National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.

On the heels of 50th Anniversary celebration of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the National Civil Rights Museum will present the Humanitarian Award to Marlo Thomas for building on and ambitiously advancing the work of the institution founded by her father, Danny Thomas.

Marlo Thomas stepped into the leadership after her father’s death and has led the achievement of phenomenal fund-raising results through the annual thanks and giving campaign. Her success has made it possible for St. Jude to treat children from across the United States and from more than 70 countries.

Located in Memphis, TN, St. Jude is the only pediatric research center in the United States where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance. In addition to providing medical services to eligible patients, St. Jude also assists families with transportation, lodging and meals.

The Legacy Award is designed to recognize younger people who are opening doors of opportunity for others and whose lives are an inspiration to all. The Legacy Award will be presented to 3 doctors known as The Three Doctors: Dr. Rameck Hunt, Dr. Sampson Davis, and Dr. George Jenkins. All three grew up in public housing in Newark, NJ. The three made a pact in high school to beat the streets and attend medical school. They all did and today they are practicing physicians in Newark. Davis works in emergency medicine at Newark’s Beth Israel Hospital. Hunt is an internist, and Jenkins is a dentist who recently became the Director of Minority Affairs at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey.

They are motivational speakers, and authors of a book entitled, The Pact. The 2008 feature-length documentary “The Pact,” is based on the book which chronicles their story and efforts to assist inner city youth.

Sponsors of the Freedom Award include the FedEx, Hyde Family Foundations, International Paper and First Tennessee Foundation.

Freedom Award activities on Tuesday, October 16 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 $2,000 for non-profit and $2,500, $4,500, $6,500, $10,000, $15,000, $25,000 and $35,000. To reserve tickets and tables visit http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org or call (901) 526-1813.

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Connie Dyson

Beverly Robertson
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