Skip to Content

NEA honors Kerry Kennedy with Human and Civil Rights award

WASHINGTON - June 23, 2011 -

The president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights will be honored by the National Education Association (NEA) during its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards dinner in Chicago, Friday, July 1, 2011. Kerry Kennedy will receive NEA’s H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award recognizing her work to free the education profession from inequities based on race or ethnicity, while also helping to improve intergroup relations and understanding among racial and ethnic groups.

“Kerry Kennedy is a flag carrier for social justice,” said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president. “She exemplifies the passion and commitment necessary to fight inequities based on race and ethnicity.”

The RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights was founded by Robert Kennedy’s family and friends in 1968 as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world.  Through long-term partnerships and cutting edge methods, the RFK Center assists advocates who have won the RFK Human Rights Award. It supports investigative journalists and authors who bring light to injustice through the RFK Book and Journalism Awards. The RFK Center’s Speak Truth to Power program educates the public and provides students with a toolkit for action to create change in the classroom, the community, nationally, and internationally.

The Center created a partnership with NEA’s New York state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), in 2008 to create a social justice curriculum. The curriculum, “Speak Up, Speak Out,” was created by classroom teachers. It was released to teachers on International Human Rights Day in 2010.

Harper Councill Trenholm (1900-1963) served for 21 years as executive secretary of the American Teachers Association (ATA), which represented eighty-five thousand Black teachers who taught in segregated schools. Trenholm worked tirelessly for the 1966 merger of ATA and NEA.

For more information, visit:
Follow us on twitter at

# # #

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: Dana Dossett  (202) 822-7823,