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Civil rights museum to honor Michelle Obama, Poor People’s Campaign

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks with 'Late Show' host Stephen Colbert
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The National Civil Rights Museum will honor former first lady Michelle Obama and the Poor People’s Campaign with its Freedom Award.

The museum on Wednesday announced that Obama and the Poor People’s campaign are the recipients of the 30th Anniversary Freedom Award that “pays tribute to outstanding individuals for their significant contributions to civil and human rights.”

The award will be presented during a virtual ceremony, taking place from the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tenn., on Oct. 14.

The museum described Obama as a “role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls’ education.”

The group called the former first lady a “global icon for women’s rights and healthy families,” while also recognizing her work advocating for young girls.

The museum said the Poor People’s Campaign has come to demonstrate “the power of poor people to be change agents at the very heart of democracy,” citing the leadership of its partnering organizations: Repairers of the Breach and Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.

The museum specifically highlighted the leaders of those two organizations: The Rev. William Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis, respectively.

“This year is the double 30th anniversary of the National Civil Rights Museum, dedicated to being a catalyst for positive social change and a place where the truth in history lives,” Russell Wigginton, president of the National Civil Rights Museum, said in a statement.

“And, for this 30th Freedom Award, we honor Michelle Obama and Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, who have distinctly changed our communities, nation and world,” he added.

The event in October will also include a special tribute to Darnella Frazier, the woman who filmed the incident between George Floyd and former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020 which resulted in Floyd’s death, a murder conviction against Chauvin and the resurgence of a national conversation regarding race in America.

The group said Frazier “triggered a national conscious-raising response,” adding that her eyewitness video “launched global protests against injustice and brutality.”

“It was her viral video that sparked a racial reckoning in the midst of a global pandemic,” the museum added.

Past recipients of the award include then-Vice President Biden, former Presidents Obama and Carter, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Oprah Winfrey and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Tags Colin Powell Joe Biden John Lewis Michelle Obama Oprah Winfrey

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