Tickets for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s International Freedom Conductor Awards Gala are now on sale. During the gala, the Freedom Center will present its highest honor to Amal and George Clooney, the late Congressman John Lewis and Bryan Stevenson for their lifetimes of advocacy for freedom across the globe. The final day to purchase tickets is August 31. The gala will take place at the Duke Energy Convention Center on October 16.
“The cause of freedom is enduring and must be pursued constantly, relentlessly to ensure all people, regardless of location, religion, race or sexuality, are free,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
The IFCA is awarded by the Freedom Center to recognize the contributions of contemporary individuals who, by their actions and personal examples, reflect the spirit and courageous actions of conductors on the historic Underground Railroad, the nation’s original social justice movement. Award recipients reflect positive impact on contemporary freedom issues.
“This year, we are bestowing our highest honor on a group of freedom conductors whose work has crossed continents, spanned decades and saved countless lives,” added Keown. “Mr. and Mrs. Clooney, Congressman Lewis and Mr. Stevenson represent historically, categorically and systemically the injustices we continue to fight in our pursuit of freedom. They are conductors on our current path to freedom.”
Amal Clooney is a barrister specializing in international law and human rights. She represents victims of human rights violations in national and international courts and is currently representing Yazidi victims of genocide, including the first genocide case against an ISIS member. Ms. Clooney is the author of The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law and is a visiting professor at Columbia Law School. Together with her husband, George (who is also honored this year), she is co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. One of their first projects – an initiative to educate hundreds of thousands of refugees in Lebanon – was showcased at the 2016 United Nations summit hosted by President Barack Obama and UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020) was integral to the Civil Rights movement for over 50 years. During his tenure Congressman Lewis was also an advocate of LGBTQIA rights, expanded access to healthcare and voting rights. In 2011, President Obama awarded Congressman Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying he was “an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.” Congressman Lewis dedicated his life to racial equity and human rights, applauding those marching in protest of police brutality and systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, considering the protests a continuation of his life’s work. His colleagues are hoping his legacy lives on in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a bill the congressman advocated for in the halls of Congress and bled for in the segregated South. Congressman Lewis reminds us always to “get into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, social justice activist and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. His work challenges the inequities of the criminal justice system in America, particularly the biases against minorities. As director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson guaranteed defense of anyone sentenced to the death penalty in Alabama, the state with the highest per capita rate of death penalty sentencing. He has been instrumental in influencing Supreme Court decisions that prohibit sentencing children under 18 to death or life in prison without parole and he has argued cases that have saved dozens of prisoners from the death penalty.
Tickets are now on sale for the October 16 event.
About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org.