The Four Freedoms Awards are presented each year to men and women whose achievements have demonstrated a commitment to the principles President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed as essential to democracy in his historic speech to Congress on January 6, 1941: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.
These Four Freedoms are more important now than ever. Today’s discordant political moment calls for a re-grounding in these fundamental values. These Awards represent a continuing dedication to the beliefs Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt so embodied – beliefs around human freedoms and security, shared well-being, and the importance and strength of the democratic process. For more information about the Awards and a list of past laureates, please click here.
The Freedom Medal
Harry Belafonte receives the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Medal, the Roosevelt Institute’s highest honor, for his lifetime of social activism promoting equality and civil rights.
Belafonte, born in Harlem and raised in Jamaica, has long been a tireless advocate for political and humanitarian causes in the U.S. and around the world. A close confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Belafonte used his star power as a singer, songwriter, and actor to publicize and fundraise for the Civil Rights Movement from its earliest days. He was active in the movement to end South African apartheid and helped create USA for Africa to provide famine relief. In 1987, UNICEF appointed him as a Goodwill Ambassador. At age 90, he remains an outspoken critic of unjust and discriminatory policies and a champion of freedom for all.
Freedom from Want
Ai-jen Poo receives the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Medal for her efforts to organize and advocate for immigrant women workers, which led to the successful passage of New York’s historic Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in 2010.
As Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-Director of the Caring Across Generations campaign, Ai-jen Poo has fought persistently to protect workers’ rights, ensure access to affordable care for the nation’s aging population, and improve the quality of jobs for the caregiving workforce. In 2014, she was a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” She continues to be a prominent organizer and activist, rallying workers and young people across the nation to fight to improve their democracy.
Freedom of Worship
Rev. Dr. Steve Stone of Heartsong Church and Dr. Bashar A. Shala of the Memphis Islamic Center jointly receive the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Worship Medal for their courageous work to foster unity between the Christian and Islamic communities in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 2008, these places of worship became neighbors in a city where many residents may not have been prepared for a cultural shift. Nevertheless, they welcomed each other with open arms and have created lasting bonds of friendship and solidarity among their congregations. Together, they represent the altruistic and openhearted ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their belief that the values we hold in common are stronger than the differences that set us apart.
Freedom from Fear
Cristina Jiménez Moreta receives the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Fear Medal for her dedication to addressing the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and empowering them to seek justice for all immigrants.
Moreta is Executive Director and Co-Founder of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. She has been organizing in immigrant communities for over a decade and was part of the UWD campaign team that fought for the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012. Despite conservative opposition, DACA continues to protect more than a million young immigrants from deportation. Under Moreta’s leadership, UWD has grown to comprise more than 300,000 members and 57 affiliates in 25 states, helping to bring undocumented Americans out of the shadows and defend their rights.
Freedom of Speech & Expression
Rather receives the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Speech and Expression Medal for his lifelong commitment to fighting for the truth and protecting one of America’s most cherished principles, the freedom of the press.
Rather is a world-renowned journalist whose career spans more than six decades. He has interviewed every American president since Dwight Eisenhower and personally covered almost every important dateline in the United States and around the world. As an anchor and managing editor for CBS News for 24 years, he provided a steady source of information and homespun wisdom through countless crises, conflicts, and political scandals, and demonstrated a fearless determination to speak truth to power. Now, as President and CEO of the independent production company News and Guts, he continues to remind us that free speech and a vigilant press are critical to the participatory democracy that the Roosevelts championed.