Agents of Change: Cecile Richards, Tarana Burke, and Dreamers to Receive Civil and Human Rights Community’s Highest Honor

42nd Annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner to Honor Women Warriors and Brave Immigrant Youth

WASHINGTON – The past year has marked a pivotal point in America’s civil rights history, with women’s rights, racial justice and immigration occupying the center of pitched battles to protect the victories of the past and win today’s fights for a better future for all. On May 16, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights will host its annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner, honoring inspiring change agents leading the defining movements of the 21st century: Cecile Richards, lifelong activist and outgoing president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement and tireless advocate for all survivors of sexual violence; and the Dreamers, brave immigrant youth who are inspiring a country and leading their own movement for justice.

“Instead of merely romanticizing American values, these honorees marshal the courage, hope, and integrity to make our values real,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “Through their strength and determination, they advocate for a vision of what America should and can be. We are proud to add their names to the roll of civil and human rights activists who continue to make this country as good as its ideals.”

The Humphrey Award, the civil and human rights community’s highest honor, is presented annually to outstanding individuals who exemplify Senator Humphrey’s “selfless and devoted service in the cause of equality.” Previous recipients include: civil rights giant Congressman John Lewis; Attorney General Eric Holder; disability rights advocate Senator Bob Dole; civil rights champions Wade Henderson, Julian Bond, and Dr. Dorothy Height; actor/activists Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover; and labor leader Dolores Huerta, among others.

The evening is the largest annual gathering of the civil and human rights community, bringing together noted and notable leaders, including members of the executive branch, both houses of Congress, business leaders, educators, civil and human rights leaders, and the next generation of civil rights advocates. This year, the emcee for the dinner is Michele Norris, journalist, author, and former host of NPR’s All Things Considered. (NOTE: Public policy advocate and political analyst Maya Harris will now emcee this year’s dinner.)

This year’s award ceremony also celebrates a new chapter for one of the nation’s most venerable civil rights organizations. Today, 42 years after the inaugural Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner, The Leadership Conference today is led by an unparalleled and diverse team of women who have each committed their lives to advancing the rights of others, including Vanita Gupta, president and CEO; Seema Nanda, executive vice president and COO;  Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy; and Ashley Allison, senior advisor and acting executive vice president for field.

About the Awardees:

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is a nationally respected leader in women’s health and reproductive rights. Planned Parenthood has worked for more than 100 years to build a healthier and safer world for women, men, and young people. She has grown advocacy efforts to fight for expanded access to health care, and has led innumerable nationwide campaigns to preserve patients’ access to preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers through federal programs.

Tarana Burke is a civil rights activist. She is best known for founding the “me too” movement in 2006 to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual violence in society. The phrase went viral in 2017 which has allowed Burke to rapidly expand the work of the movement. Time named Burke, among a group of other prominent female activists dubbed “the silence breakers”, as the Time Person of the Year for 2017. Her work focuses on healing and community action and most importantly, amplifies the voices of survivors. She is currently senior director at Girls for Gender Equity.

Dreamers are the more than 3.5 million immigrant youth eligible for protection under the Dream Act, which was introduced in 2001 and would have given its beneficiaries a path to American citizenship. Dreamers are multiethnic, multiracial, and include people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community. The fight to protect Dreamers is a fight to save the soul of our country. Dreamers are America, and The Leadership Conference stands with them, advocating for their civil and human rights, and full access to the American Dream.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit