Roosevelt Institute to Present 2021 Four Freedoms Awards

August 18, 2021

For the first time in its 39-year history, the Roosevelt Institute’s Four Freedoms will have a central theme focused on racial justice


New York, NY— The Roosevelt Institute is pleased to announce its 2021 Four Freedoms Awards recipients. Based on the principles President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlined as essential for democracy in his historic 1941 speech to Congress and in memory of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacies, 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. For the first time in the award’s history, this year’s awards will have a central theme, and will be given to those who embody racial justice through their work and legacies. In particular, the Roosevelt Institute will honor its own commitment to historical repair and redress by presenting the Freedom Medal to Fred T. Korematsu, a civil rights activist who protested the Roosevelt Administration’s incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Traditionally, the Four Freedoms Awards are presented in alternating years by the Roosevelt Institute in the U.S. and the Roosevelt Stichting in the Netherlands, FDR’s ancestral home. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Award committee has chosen to forgo its traditional in-person ceremony. It will instead celebrate honorees through a series of virtual events and in-depth interviews.

Award recipients and ceremonies

Freedom of Speech and Expression and Freedom of Worship Ceremony
Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 7:00 PM ET
  • Freedom of Speech and Expression: New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will be honored for developing the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, a visionary work that exposed the systemic and institutionalized racism embedded in our country’s laws and policies. She is also being recognized for her commitment to mentoring and training investigative reporters of color.
  • Freedom of Worship: Senator Raphael Warnock will be honored for his work as the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and for carrying the legacy of generations of Black spiritual leaders who have fought for justice in the South. He is also being recognized for his advocacy work on issues including criminal justice reform and protecting voting rights.
Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear Ceremony
Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 7:00 PM ET
  • Freedom from Want: Economic Justice Advocate Deepak Bhargava will be honored for his immense impact on grassroots and social movements through his work at Community Change, where he mentored and trained hundreds of activists who have become key leaders in progressive social movements. 
  • Freedom from Fear: Maria Isabel Sierra, Sonia Pérez, Sixta Leon Barrita, and Rubiela Correa, four powerful women leaders, will be honored for their work in fighting to secure the first ever $2.1 billion Excluded Worker Fund in New York, which established emergency income for undocumented workers—such as street vendors, domestic workers, and others who were excluded from unemployment benefits and federal COVID relief funds, despite contributing to these systems.
Freedom Medal Award Ceremony
Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 7:00 PM ET
  • Freedom Medal: The Freedom Medal will be awarded posthumously to civil rights activist Fred T. Korematsu, whose challenge of FDR’s policy decisions toward Japanese Americans during World War II went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Roosevelt Institute will present this award to Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Dr. Karen Korematsu, who leads the Fred T. Korematsu Institute. 

We publicly acknowledge the harm FDR’s policy decisions caused the Japanese American community, and by extension, all Americans.

“Our country is currently facing hardships not seen since my grandfather was in office. Now, in focusing on racial justice, we are taking the opportunity to address areas where we have fallen short before,” said Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Board Chair of the Roosevelt Institute. “I am honored to present this year’s laureates and the work they have done in the fight for racial justice.”

“As both an Asian American and President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, I could not be prouder that we as an organization are reckoning with the Roosevelt Administration’s incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II by honoring Mr. Korematsu,” said Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. “As we continue our fight for a just economy and a multiracial democracy, it’s important to learn from the past so we can grow in the future. ”

For additional information please visit the Four Freedoms Awards website here. You can also find information about their history 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

The Roosevelt Institute is a think tank, a student network, and the nonprofit partner to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum that, together, are learning from the past and working to redefine the future of the American economy. Focusing on corporate and public power, labor and wages, and the economics of race and gender inequality, the Roosevelt Institute unifies experts, invests in young leaders, and advances progressive policies that bring the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor into the 21st century.

To keep up to date with the Roosevelt Institute, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter.