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Educators to honor human and civil rights heroes in Orlando, Florida

Annual gala to recognize the causes, contributions and work of social justice activists

WASHINGTON - June 22, 2015 -

Since 1967, The National Education Association has recognized and honored human and civil rights heroes at moving and inspiring awards gala. NEA will thank and honor the outstanding work of a dozen of America’s heroes at its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner on July 2 in Orlando, Fla. The theme, “Justice for All: Never Forget, Never Give Up,” recognizes those who have fought—and continue to fight—for social justice. For a full list and bios of this year’s winners please visit here

“We celebrate our civil rights heroes, both past and present, because the struggle for social justice continues,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “By holding up these heroes we inspire the next generation. The outstanding people we will honor at NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner, whether they are widely-acclaimed or unsung, motivate us to be purposeful, determined, and principled in action, and they provide a vision of what the world could be with cooperation and understanding.”

The NEA Carter G. Woodson Memorial Award:, Washington provides the public with comprehensive and accurate information about the history of African Americans in the United States. Educators use in the classroom as a teaching aid. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA César Chávez Acción Y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award: The Romero Theater Troupe, Colorado

The Romero Theater Troupe uses non-traditional teaching methods to tell the stories of workers, immigrants, minorities, and gays fighting for their rights in the name of social justice. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award (Non-Black): Janet Monseur-Durr, Ohio

Janet Monseur-Durr uses a diverse curriculum to help nurture and guide her students in the Hilliard City School District in central Ohio, the ninth largest in the state, which links the school district and the community together. To view full bio, click here.

The NEA Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award: Richard Lui, New York

Richard Lui uses his passion for journalism to influence youth, through his drive to make an impact in improving human and civil rights. To view full bio, click here.

The NEA Leo Reano Memorial Award: Denise Juneau, Montana

Denise Juneau advocates for the life and education of Indian students, by challenging all schools and community leaders to step outside their comfort zones. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award: Seeds of Peace, New York

Seeds of Peace is a non-profit organization that works to improve the relations between Israelis and Palestinians, by encouraging positive personal contact, to humanize the enemy and lessen the bigotry. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award: Estella Mims Pyfrom, Florida

After retiring as a teacher of 40 years, Estella Mims Pyfrom founded and is providing mobile education opportunities for students in schools, homeless shelters and community centers throughout Palm Beach County, Florida. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights: You Can Play Project, Colorado

You Can Play is a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the culture and promote diversity in locker rooms and to eliminate homophobia in sports. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Award: Edith Savage-Jennings, New Jersey

Edith Savage-Jennings is a civil rights icon and advocate who believes racism must be confronted and called out, whenever and wherever it occurs. To view full bio, please click here.

The NEA Mary Hatwood Futrell Award: The Honorable Karla N. Smith, Maryland

Through her own interest and passion, Karla N. Smith has created her own curriculum and support services to aide women and children of domestic abuse. To view full bio, please click here.

George I. Sánchez Memorial Award: Elmo Padilla, New Mexico

Elmo Padilla devotes his time leading fundraising efforts to meet the immediate needs of homeless children and their families. To view full bio, please click here.

About the Human Civil Rights Awards Dinner

The annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner was originally created by the American Teachers Association (ATA), which represented Black teachers in segregated schools. When NEA and ATA merged in 1966, NEA agreed to carry on this annual human and civil rights awards tradition. NEA members submit nominations for the annual awards and nominations are reviewed by NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Committee, which makes recommendations to the NEA Executive Committee. The Executive Committee determines the award recipients.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, (202) 822-7823,


NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards Program

NEA Human and Civil Rights