Throughout her entire career, former first lady Michelle Obama has tapped into the power of civic engagement and the Chicago native will be honored for the contributions she’s made towards advancing social justice and human rights. According to The Hill, the National Civil Rights Museum will bestow Obama with the prestigious Freedom Award.
Obama has been a driving force of change. Prior to becoming the first African American First Lady of the United States, she led an array of grassroots initiatives in her hometown. The Princeton University alumna—who earned a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School—was the founding executive director of Public Allies’ Chicago-based chapter. Through the program, she helped introduce youth to career paths in the realm of public service. Obama, who served as an associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago, helped cultivate the institution’s first community service program and later became the VP of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center. After stepping into the White House, her passion for social impact did not waver. She spearheaded initiatives centered on addressing childhood obesity, supporting military families, higher education and making education accessible for girls and women across the globe.
She will receive the award along with the Poor People’s Campaign; an organization led by Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis that is dedicated to combating systemic racism, poverty and a myriad of other social issues. “This year is the double 30th anniversary of the National Civil Rights Museum, dedicated to being a catalyst for positive social change and a place where the truth in history lives,” Russell Wigginton, who serves as president of the museum, said in a statement. He added the recipients have “distinctly changed our communities, nation and world.” Darnella Frazier, the woman who bravely recorded the horrific murder of George Floyd, will also be honored for her courageous act. The ceremony is slated to take place in October.
Obama joins a group of impactful and influential individuals who have received the Freedom Award in the past, including Nelson Mandela, former President Barack Obama, Rep. John Lewis, Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks.