Civil Rights Awards Dinner Honors ‘Change Agents’

Media 05.17.18

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights honored inspiring change agents leading the defining movements of the 21st century last night during the annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner. This year’s awardees were: Cecile Richards, lifelong activist and former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Tarana Burke, #MeToo movement founder and tireless advocate for all survivors of sexual violence; and Dreamers, brave immigrant youth who are inspiring a country and leading their own movement for justice.

Greisa Martinez of United We Dream, Jonathan Jayes-Green of UndocuBlack, and activist Raymond Partalon accepted the Dreamers award on behalf of the 3.5 million youth. Dreamers selected by United We Dream, UndocuBlack, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC also attended.

Video of the dinner remarks will be posted later today here.

“This work is bigger than any one of us or any one of our organizations. It’s a movement inspired by the masses. A movement fueled by love. And a movement driven by justice and a demand for an America we all deserve,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “And so, to all Dreamers, to Cecile, and to Tarana, I say thank you. Thank you for your tenacity. Your spirit. And your fundamental belief in an America as good as its ideals.”

“When I arrived at Planned Parenthood 12 years ago, Planned Parenthood was not part of The Leadership Conference. Together, we set out to change that. Planned Parenthood is proud to stand with our brothers and sisters as we work for social change,” said Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Standing in solidarity together – with up-and-coming leaders and seasoned activists alike – takes on a new urgency today, as we fight for the very soul of our nation. The fundamental principles that represent the best of America – diversity, pluralism, and equality – are all at risk. But together, we are unstoppable.”

“What could be a more fundamental human right than the right to decide how, when, why, and who touches your body? And it’s not just an individual right. It should be of the highest priority in the communities that we live in,” said Tarana Burke, #MeToo movement founder. “This is a survivor’s movement. It’s a people’s movement. And we need a commitment from survivors, from allies, from advocates, that we will ride this wave together. We can heal our communities together. We are all in this together and we all have a role to play. Every contribution is worthy. Let’s heal together.”

“Over the last year, immigrant youth have put our bodies on the line to save our families and to save our democracy. We fight so hard because we know that our struggle is even bigger than the Dream Act. We must dig deep because the power to resist and the power to win is inside of us. The truth is that the white supremacists are tightening their grip. But another truth is that there is a great awakening happening all across this country. And all of us – as organizers – must work to inspire and resist,” said Greisa Martinez of United We Dream.

“Dreamers, as we are so often called, have faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the fulfillment of our highest human potential, especially today,” said activist Raymond Partolan. To The Leadership Conference: thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate this distinct recognition. We are here to stay, and we will continue to fight until our communities are safe from the threat of deportation. When they tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”

“This political moment we are in has been so painful, difficult, and at times deadly to our vulnerable populations. Our immigrant communities are under attack each and every day. But the same way that forces of evil are determined to criminalize our families and communities, we as undocumented young people are determined to fight back – for justice, dignity, and freedom that our people deserve,” said Jonathan Jayes-Green of UndocuBlack.

More information on the honorees is available here.