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San Francisco legendary social activist LeRoy King to receive Human and Civil Rights Award

WASHINGTON - June 24, 2009 -

Leroy King will be honored with a Human and Civil Rights Award by the National Education Association at its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner to be held in San Diego, Calif., on July 2, 2009.

Leroy King is being honored for decades of his work to achieve social justice and a better life for working families in San Francisco. King, a leader with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and civil rights activist, will receive NEA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award.

“ LeRoy King is fiercely committed to the principles of equality and justice for all people, and he’s demonstrated his commitment time and time again,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

King’s fire and passion for action in support of his beliefs has never dimmed. While in his 80s, he was arrested for staging an act of civil disobedience with hotel and restaurant workers who were fighting to improve working conditions. He also joined San Francisco teachers and education support professionals when they occupied the offices of the city’s Board of Education to dramatize the unmet needs of students.

King became a member of the Local 6 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in 1946. In the 1950s he worked with a coalition of White and Black members to overturn a system that guaranteed the election of only Whites to union office.

King was instrumental in the union’s creation of the St. Francis Square Cooperative Housing development, which opened in 1963 in the Fillmore District and was a national model for creating racially integrated housing for working families. Mr. King and his family moved into the project when it opened, and he continues to live there today in a four-generation household. 

King is often credited for bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to the Bay area for a civil rights rally in 1967. King was also a staunch supporter of unions and of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

The NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards program honors individuals and organizations that promote peace and advance social and economic justice for all people. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award winner emulates King’s inclusive leadership and nonviolent philosophy.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals,
school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.


CONTACT: Cynthia Kain
Phone 202-213-5971