MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every year, the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Awards program is a signature event that puts Memphis on a national and international stage on behalf of human and civil rights. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the awards – and the museum hit a home run in naming former first lady Michelle Obama as one of the award recipients.
Far more than being the wife of a president, Mrs. Obama has been a tireless champion for the rights of young women and girls – and a strong advocate for healthcare and education.
The museum this year will also honor the Poor People’s Campaign led by activists William Barber and Liz Theoharis.
And perhaps even more meaningful, Minneapolis teenager Darnella Frazier is being honored as well. She courageously captured cellphone video of the police killing of George Floyd – and posted it online, leading to criminal charges against the officers and sparking an international movement for human rights and a reckoning on race.
Because of COVID-19, this year’s Freedom Awards will be livestreamed instead of being held before a large audience. But nothing can dampen this spectacular ceremony. Past honorees include Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Joe Biden, and Memphis’ own Maxine Smith.
Wednesday, Memphians observed 901 Day, recognizing what makes this city special. The Civil Rights Museum’s annual Freedom Awards are at the top of that list.