Skip to Content

National Education Association honors 13 human and civil rights heroes

Annual gala marks 50th anniversary of the NEA-American Teachers Association merger


WASHINGTON - July 03, 2016 -

A lawmaker who stands up for those who have been knocked down, a community organizer who offers a beacon of light for the youth in her community, an activist who makes sure the voices of those drowned out by inequality, disenfranchisement and institutional racisms are heard. Since 1967, NEA has recognized and honored those who have fought and continue to fight for human and civil rights. This year, NEA will thank and honor the outstanding work of 13 of Americas social justice heroes at its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner on July 3 in Washington.

NEA will also recognize the 50th anniversary of its merger with the American Teachers Association, which represented Black teachers in segregated schools. ATA originally created the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner, and, as part of the merger, NEA continues this important tradition.

"Like the brave visionaries who forever intertwined the NEA and ATA in social justice advocacy 50 years ago, we honor these 13 American human and civil rights heroes because they are doing what we know is right, just and courageous, said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. "They are confronting the most controversial and pressing issues facing our country. They are standing up for those who have been knocked down. They are a beacon of light to those left behind. They are making sure the voices of those drowned out by institutional racism, inequality, and disenfranchisement are heard. They motivate us, they inspire us through their deeds and actions, and they embody what is just and right about our world."

For a full list and bios of this year's winners please visit here.

NEA Cesar Chavez Accin Y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award: Luis V. Gutierrez
This year's Human and Civil Rights award will go to Illinois Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez for his unbending commitment to immigration reform and workers' rights.

NEA Leo Reano Memorial Award : Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown
NEA is recognizing Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for his unwavering commitment to education outreach and his work to uplift the Native American community.

NEA Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Hawaiian culture ambassador A native Hawaiian, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, also known as Hina, is a dedicated kumu (teacher) and this year the NEA Human and Civil Rights Award for her work in educating others about Native Hawaiian culture.

NEA President's Award: Morris Dees
As founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Dees will receive this year's NEA President's award for his innovative work to bring racial justice to those who don

The NEA George I. Snchez Memorial Award: Estela Ortega and El Centro de la Raza
NEA is recognizing Estela Ortega and El Centro de la Raza with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for creating a beacon of light for the youth of her Seattle community. 

NEA H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award: Christopher H. Bennett
NEA is recognizing Christopher Bennett, a humanitarian and Seattle media mogul, with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award, for caring deeply and passionately about his beloved community.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Award: Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Hamm
NEA is recognizing Dr. Lawrence Larry Hamm, founder of the People's Organization for Progress, with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for empowering the powerless through direct action. 

The NEA Mary Hatwood Futrell Award: Juana R. Royster, PhD 
NEA is awarding Dr. Juana Royster its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for breaking the glass ceiling, dedicating her life to educating minority communities about diabetes, and for being a champion of girls and women.

Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award: Dr. George Moorman
NEA will recognize Moorman with its Human and Civil Rights Award for his work to prevent future generations from becoming a statistic. 

NEA Rosa Parks Memorial Award: David Sciarra, Executive Director of the Education Law Center The National Education Association is recognizing David Sciarra, Executive Director of the Education Law Center, for his invaluable legal contributions in fighting for a quality public education for every child.

NEA Rosina J. Willis Memorial Award: Education Austin
NEA is recognizing Education Austin with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for standing up for the immigrant community and for helping students and families pursue the American dream.

NEA SuAnne Big Crow Memorial Award: Michael Chavarria, LGBTQ students champion
NEA is recognizing California high school student Michael Chavarria with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for creating a safe place for the LGBTQ community.

Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights: H.T. Nguyen and Michael Priser, Federal Education Association, Fighters of equal rights for domestic partners and same-sex spouses

NEA is recognizing the leadership team of the Federal Education Association, which represents teachers and other educators on U.S. military bases domestically and abroad, with its 2016 Human and Civil Rights Award for their extensive work in negotiating rights for domestic and same sex partners.

Follow the conversation on Twitter #NEARA16 @NEAMedia

###

The National Education Association is the nations largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, NEA Communications
202-822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org