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International Civil Rights Center and Museum honors activists

By Yasmine Regester / February 10, 2017

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (ICRCM) in Greensboro hosted its annual fund-raising gala at The Elm Street Center on Saturday, February 4.

The museum recognized civil rights activist, Diane Nash with the Alston-Jones International Civil and Human Rights Award for her integration and organization of the Freedom Riders and helping with the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

U.S. Rep. George Kenneth “G.K.” Butterfield (NC-1) was recognized with the Unsung Hero Award. Butterfield, who is a former N.C. Supreme Court justice, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004.

Bishop George Brooks, former pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro, was presented with the Lifetime Community Service Award. Brooks is the cofounder of the Welfare Reform Liaison Project which assists welfare recipients to become self-sufficient.

Civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who defended Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks and represented plaintiffs in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, was presented with the Trailblazer Award. Gray also fought cases in education which lead to the desegregation of more than 100 public school systems, colleges and universities in Alabama, where he still practices law.

Brenda Dalton James received the Sit-In Participant Award. A Dudley High School student at the time, James was a participant in the 1960 F.W. Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins. She continues to be a community activist and volunteer at the ICRCM.

Opened in 2010, the museum commemorates the 1960 F.W. Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, when four N.C. A&T State University freshmen sat down at the counter in protest of the segregation policies of the South. Their actions sparked a series of sit-ins across the South. February 1 marks the 57th anniversary of the lunch counter sit-ins.

The museum’s annual fundraiser gala honors the civil and human rights achievements of community leaders, corporations, organizations and individuals throughout the world.

Gala honorees gathered at the museum before the banquet to speak to a small group about their experiences working for social and racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement and today.
“It’s really critical that young people know our history. I love this museum because it is founded, owned and operated by Black people and I think that’s really beautiful,” said Nash.

ICRCM Award Recipients

  • Diane Nash – Alston-Jones International Civil & Human Rights Award.
  • U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield – Unsung Hero Award.
  • Fred Gray- Trailblazer Award.
  • Bishop George Brooks- Lifetime Community Service Award.
  • Brenda Dalton James – Sit-In Participant Award.

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