Roosevelt Institute Presents 2019 Four Freedoms Awards to Champions of Democracy

October 5, 2019

Ceremony highlights the importance of democratic values in a challenging political landscape


Hyde Park, NY—Today, the Roosevelt Institute celebrated the Four Freedoms Awards, honoring Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacies and those who exemplify core freedoms that uphold our democracy. The Four Freedoms Awards are presented in alternating years by the Roosevelt Institute in the US and Roosevelt Stichting in the Netherlands, FDR’s ancestral home. For the first time since 2011, the New York event has returned to Hyde Park and was attended by 265 people, including Han Polman, King’s Commissioner in the Province of Zeeland & Chair of the Roosevelt Foundation and a delegation of over 30 from the Netherlands.

Modeled after FDR’s historic 1941 speech to Congress, laureates receive honors in the following categories: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom medal. This year’s recipients are:

  • Freedom Medal: Lonnie Bunch for his significant contributions to American culture and society as a historian and storyteller. Bunch is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and is currently secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He is the first African American to hold this position.
  • Freedom of Speech and Expression: The Boston Globe for its call to news organizations to publish editorials in support of a free press and their critical role in democracy.
  • Freedom of Worship: Krista Tippett for her honest pursuit of ancient and enduring human questions about our spiritual traditions.
  • Freedom from Want: Franklin Thomas for dedicating his life to public service, community development, and philanthropy. Thomas was the first African American president of the Ford Foundation, where he focused on issues relating to urban poverty, human rights, and anti-apartheid initiatives.
  • Freedom from Fear: Sandy Hook Promise for recognizing the need to build community and engage in powerful advocacy around gun violence following an unthinkable tragedy.

“The Four Freedoms Awards represent a continuing dedication to the values my grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, so embodied—beliefs around human freedoms and security, shared well-being, and the importance and strength of the democratic process,” said Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Board Chair of the Roosevelt Institute. “I am so pleased that this event has returned home to Hyde Park. It’s not only the birthplace and home of my grandfather, but it’s especially important as the site of his Presidential Library and Museum.”

“The Four Freedoms and those who champion them are more important now than ever,” said Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute.“Today’s political moment calls for a regrounding in Rooseveltian values, which each of this year’s laureates embodies. As FDR told our nation almost 80 years ago, we must never give up our fight for democracy.”

Past recipients of the Four Freedoms Awards include Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton; international luminaries, such as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama; and treasured Americans, including Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, journalist Dan Rather, civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson. You can learn more about the Four Freedoms Awards here.

About the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is America’s first presidential library—and the only one used by a sitting president. Conceived and built under President Roosevelt’s direction and opened to the public in 1941, the Library is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Members and donors form a vital base of support for many of the Library’s key initiatives and help keep our doors open to visitors and students from around the world.

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. The Roosevelt Institute is also the nonprofit partner to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

To keep up to date with the Roosevelt Institute, please visit us on Twitter or follow our work at #RewriteTheRules.

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