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Willis Franklin Earl Edwards - Rosa Parks Memorial Award

"Champion of the Underdog" to Receive NEA Human and Civil Rights Award


WASHINGTON - July 02, 2008 -

Willis Franklin Earl Edwards, a Los Angeles civil rights activist, will receive the National Education Association's Rosa Parks Memorial Award for his commitment to building bridges in the community as part of the Association's 42nd annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on July 2, 2008.

"Willis' accomplishments for human rights are astounding," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "He has worked tirelessly on behalf of righting injustices involving children and advocated to lawmakers nationwide that racial epithets be banned."

Edwards has been an advocate for human rights since his student days. He was by Bobby Kennedy's side when he was assassinated in 1968. Ever since, he has taken it upon himself to do all he can to serve others and provide a positive service to the world. His primary motto:  doing what you can, from where you are, for others. He preaches wherever he goes, "If you see something wrong, stand up and be counted."

Edwards was the executive producer of the Rosa Parks Story, which starred Angela Bassett and aired on CBS in 2002. In addition, he persuaded the White House to have Rosa Parks in attendance at President Clinton's 1999 State of the Union Address. He convinced NBC to nationally televise the NAACP Image Awards and coordinated Nelson Mandela's triumphant visit to Los Angeles.

Today, Edwards serves on the National Board of the NAACP, the Rosa Parks Museum and Library Board, and the Latino/African-American Alliance Advisory Board.

"Willis Edwards is a man who stands up for what he believes and for those who cannot do so for themselves," Weaver said. "We honor him for his leadership and his actions."

The NEA Rosa Parks Memorial Award honors Rosa Parks and her decision to sit down so that others could stand up. This award is given to inspire others to champion the cause of human and civil rights.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee 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: Samantha Kappalman  (202) 822-7823