Civil Rights Community Gathers at the LCCHR Dinner

Left to Right: Leon W. Russell, Vice Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, the author,and Nicholas Wiggins, Manager of External Relations for the Board of Directors

On Thursday, May 12, 2011, members of the NAACP national board and staff attended the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner. The year’s largest gathering of the civil and human rights community, the dinner brings together a who’s who in social justice -- members of the Executive Branch, both houses of Congress, business leaders, educators, civil and human rights leaders, and the next generation of social justice advocates.

The Humphrey Award, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights highest honor, is presented annually to outstanding individuals who best exemplify Senator Humphrey’s “selfless and devoted service in the cause of equality” – an honor roll, which, over the years, has included President William Clinton; Representative John Lewis; Senator Patrick Leahy; Representative Connie Morella; Senator Tom Daschle; civil rights champion Dr. Dorothy Height; disability advocate Tammy Duckworth; director Steven Spielberg; actor and activist Danny Glover; FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair; and labor leader Dolores Huerta, among others.

This year, the honorees included Richard Trumka, Shirley Sherrod, and Joe Solmonese.

NAACP President and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous presented the award to Shirley Sherrod. Shirley Sherrod is a nationally known activist working on issues of economic justice and racial disparity. Hailing from rural Georgia, her work for social justice and equality began early in her life. She became involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during its heyday in the early 1960s. She has worked on behalf of African-American farmers, helping to build assets and wealth among a historically dispossessed group. Working with her husband Charles Sherrod, she formed New Communities, Inc., a model community land trust that eventually became the largest tract of African-American owned land in the United States. Her work in farmland preservation and asset building led her to work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and then to a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which she held until 2010. Ms. Sherrod remains committed to seeking justice for America’s historically marginalized farmers, and fighting against bigotry in all its forms.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals; and the NAACP is a proud to be a coalition member.