2015 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards

The Four Freedoms Awards are presented each year to men and women whose achievements have demonstrated a commitment to those principles which President Roosevelt proclaimed in his historic speech to Congress on January 6, 1941, as essential to democracy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. For more information about the Awards and a list of past laureates, please click here

On Tuesday, September 29th, 2015, the Roosevelt Institute held the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards at St. James’ Church in New York City, honoring the following laureates:


Justice Ginsburg HeadshotAssociate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Freedom Medal

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Medal, the Institute’s highest honor, for her decades as a champion of fairness, compassion, and equality for all Americans in the eyes of the law. Justice Ginsburg, only the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, spent much of her earlier career with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she did much to advance women’s rights as a constitutional principle. In the judiciary, she is known for her restraint and caution. As the most senior of the left-leaning Justices, her decisions and dissents have become known for their passionate and well-reasoned arguments for the democratic ideals espoused by the Roosevelts.


Arthur Mitchell HeadshotArthur Mitchell

Freedom of Speech and Expression

Arthur Mitchell received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Speech and Expression Medal for using art to transcend boundaries.

Mr. Mitchell’s career as New York City Ballet’s first African American male dancer, his commitment to dance education for young people from all backgrounds, and his founding of the Dance Theatre of Harlem serve as a model for us all. Through the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Mr. Mitchell created a space for dancers who were often otherwise excluded. He reminds us that the arts, and dance, are a critical part of the vibrant, creative, participatory democracy that Franklin Roosevelt championed.


Rev. Barber HeadshotThe Reverend Dr. William Barber

Freedom of Worship

The Reverend Dr. William Barber received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Worship Medal for his courageous work drawing together new coalitions of progressives in his native North Carolina and across the country.

Rev. Dr. Barber co-founded Moral Mondays, an all-inclusive, grassroots movement that has united numerous advocacy groups on critical issues, including labor rights, universal healthcare, and public education, empowering people of faith and all those who believe in a more progressive future. Rev. Dr. Barber has taken a difficult partisan fight to the masses, and continues to inspire people of all races, classes, and creeds to fight for a new Southern coalition dedicated to freedom for all.


Funmi Olopade Headshot

Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade

Freedom from Want

Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Medal for her groundbreaking work on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer among patients who have been historically underserved by the American healthcare and medical research system.

Dr. Olopade is a world-renowned oncologist and genetics expert who has made significant contributions to the prevention and management of cancer. She discovered that BCRA mutations, previously linked to breast and ovarian cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish women, are also prevalent among black women. Her research has therefore changed the way doctors screen black women for this disease, ensuring these patients, underserved by the research community, receive proper care. She has successfully linked disciplines, cultures, and countries in her mission to save lives.


Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Nation, Led by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Freedom from Fear

The Nation magazine received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Fear Medal for its dedication to unapologetic truth-telling and commitment to covering difficult, substantive, and relevant news stories.

As The Nation celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015, the Roosevelt Institute pays tribute to the longest-running progressive publication in America. The magazine has launched or furthered the careers of many brilliant writers and activists, from Melissa Harris-Perry to Calvin Trillin to Katha Pollitt. In addition, The Nation and Editor/Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel have regularly stood up for issues or positions from which others have shied away, going as far as to sue the Department of Defense in order to share a news story with the world.

Watch the full ceremony below: