The National Civil Rights Museum Announces the 2013 Freedom Award Honorees

Share Article

The Freedom Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions in civil rights and have laid the foundation for present and future leaders in the battle for human rights

Today the National Civil Rights Museum announced that the 2013 Freedom Award will be presented to three individuals whose work spans decades and continues to speak to current education, economic and political concerns in the U.S. and globally. The honorees are Mary Robinson, first female president of Ireland and human rights champion; Geoffrey Canada, CEO and president of Harlem Children’s Zone and a leading advocate for education reform and equality; and Earl Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, activist for black consumer and black business power.

Themed “Shaping a Culture; Building a Nation,” the Freedom Award is scheduled for Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, followed by the Gala Dinner at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

“In their careers, each of the honorees has been engaged in shaping a culture and ultimately defining important aspects that drove change,“ said Beverly Robertson, president of the National Civil Rights Museum. “It is particularly timely to honor and hear from Geoffrey Canada who has instituted a new model for educating inner city youth that’s being emulated nationwide. We all could stand to listen and learn from the extraordinary lives of our honorees and the examples they have set.”

Mary Robinson, International Freedom Award honoree, is the President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. She served as President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She is a member of the Elders and the Club of Madrid and the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States Barack Obama. She is a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. In March 2013 Mary was appointed the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa.

A former President of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders she was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-2010 and served as Honorary President of Oxfam International from 2002-2012.

Mary Robinson serves as Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business in addition to being a board member of several organizations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the European Climate Foundation. Mary is the Chancellor of the University of Dublin since 1998. Mary’s memoir, Everybody Matters, was published in March 2013.

Geoffrey Canada, National Freedom Award honoree, has dedicated much of his life to community outreach with a special focus on education and providing resources to poor families. His passion for education and inner-city youth directly tie back to his own experience growing up in “rough” South Bronx, New York.

The educator and president of the Harlem Children's Zone, a nonprofit organization that provides education and support to local children and their families, has become a “shining example for how to save America's failing public schools.” In the grim public education documentary "Waiting for Superman," Canada stands out as the singular voice of hope in a film that paints the nation's public school system as suffering and struggling.

Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone model, which is now being replicated by other communities across the country, has expanded its reach to more than 20 sites throughout Central Harlem and continues to affect the lives of more than 12,300 children and 12,400 adults.

Earl Graves, Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, recognized early the importance of Black consumer power, as well as the need for more Black businesses. Considered by many to be the “Black Business Bible,” Graves’ Black Enterprise Magazine, has remained steadfast to its mission of educating and empowering entrepreneurship in the Black community. The business has grown immensely, and so has its reach. Now formally titled Earl G. Graves Limited, the company is now home to programs and events such as the Wealth for Life Initiative, the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo and more. Broadcast programs such as Black Enterprise Business Report and Our World with Black Enterprise also reach out to an array of Black entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investors and innovators.

Earl G. Graves’ lifetime commitment to empowering Black business and the economic of the Black community has forever changed how the community and the world perceive Black businesses. He taught us to never underestimate black consumer power, nor to underestimate the power we each have to create our own success. He leads by example and serves as a reminder of our ability not only to succeed, but also to thrive.

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

Freedom Award activities on Wednesday, November 6, 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 $3,000, $4,500, $6,500, $10,000, $15,000, $25,000 and $35,000. To reserve tickets and tables visit or call (901) 526-1813.

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 six local youth who have demonstrated acts of compassion, leadership, courage and service.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Faith Morris

Connie Dyson
Follow us on
Visit website