Release: 2017 FDR Four Freedoms Awards Honorees Call for Vigilance
Dan Rather and Harry Belafonte make remarks during Roosevelt Institute’s Annual Four Freedoms Awards
New York, NY – Musician and civil rights advocate Harry Belafonte and veteran journalist Dan Rather called for vigilance and persistence in the face of the Trump administration during the Roosevelt Institute’s annual FDR Four Freedoms Awards earlier this week. The annual event recognizes the contributions of civil society leaders who embody the vision for a better world that President Franklin Roosevelt articulated in his 1941 “Four Freedoms” address. Both Rather and Belafonte—along with four other community leaders—were honored with the award this year.
This year’s awards took place at a challenging moment for the nation and world. The 2016 presidential election and early months of the Trump administration have challenged the nation like few other eras have, with many people concerned about or outright fearful for the future. The Four Freedoms gathering afforded attendees the opportunity to celebrate individuals who embody the best of our country and to reflect on similar moments of challenge in our history and how we have risen to the occasion to resume a path of progress.
Many of the awardees had sharp words for the Trump administration, with Rather noting we must all “stand in support of the First Amendment.”
Belafonte also made a direct reference to the administration in his remarks. “One of the preoccupations at this time of my life is that our nation should be led by those who do not deserve such a prize, such an honor, as to lead our nation,” Belafonte said. “However, with the warriors like those on this platform and those of you who sit in the audience, I think we will endure.”
“The turbulence of the past year has made the Four Freedoms Awards all the more important,” said Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute.
“As daunting as these times may be, each of our honorees remind us that there are people across this country who have committed their lives to progress, justice and building a better future.
“Their tireless work defending and expanding democracy serves as an inspiration for anyone doubting their ability to make change in their communities and in the world. Each of our honorees exemplify the immortal words of Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’”
This year’s honorees included:
- Harry Belafonte, Freedom Medalist, for his lifetime of social activism and leadership promoting equality
- Dan Rather, Freedom of Speech, for his decades of reporting the news and challenging the powerful
- Pastor Steve Stone (Heartsong Church) & Dr. Bashar Shala (Memphis Islamic Center), Freedom of Worship, for their work promoting harmony and understanding between different religious communities
- AiJen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Freedom from Want, for her leadership in advancing the dignity and interests of working people
- Cristina Jiménez Moreta of United We Dream, Freedom from Fear, for her courageous work in service of undocumented young people
The morning after the Roosevelt Institute’s event, the MacArthur Foundation announced it was awarding Cristina Jiménez Moreta a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship for her leadership in the immigration justice movement. Previous Four Freedoms Awards honorees include Nelson Mandela, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Reverend William Barber.
About the Roosevelt Institute
Until economic and social rules work for all Americans, they’re not working. Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, the Roosevelt Institute reimagines the rules to create a nation where everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We are a 21st century think tank bringing together multiple generations of thinkers and leaders to help drive key economic and social debates and have local and national impact.