On RFK'S 80th Birthday, New Orleans Organizer Presented Human Rights Award
Washington, D.C.- This November, Robert F. Kennedy would have celebrated his 80th Birthday. In honor of this occasion, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial will present a program of events on November 16th to celebrate RFK's life and legacy including a special tribute at the annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Ceremony.
The 2005 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award will be presented to Stephen Bradberry, the Lead Organizer of the New Orleans chapter of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families working together for social justice and stronger communities. The award ceremony will take place in Room 50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building at on November 16th at 10:30 a.m.
The ceremony will be hosted by Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy with speeches by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and the Keynote Speech by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) ) speaking about the importance of RFK's legacy to America and what must be done to keep the legacy alive and thriving.
At a time when our nation is faced with hard questions about the role of government and the realities of poverty, Stephen Bradberry has become a voice for the low income communities of New Orleans. Even before Katrina devastated the city, one in every four people of New Orleans lived below the federally recognized poverty line. Stephen has fought to protect the economic, political, and social rights of these often forgotten citizens through campaigns targeted at promoting a living wage, preventing predatory lending, preventing lead poisoning in children, and increasing voter participation.
Securing a place for the concerns of low income communities in government projects was essential to Robert Kennedy's vision of social justice. In a speech in 1966, RFK said that, "[i]t has been a long time since leadership in this country has spoken to the poor and tried to understand the problem of their existence." Kennedy noted that even though government officials may not like working with community leaders, "the price of their discontent may be progress- and stronger and safer communities for our children and ourselves."
This wisdom has become even more meaningful in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as the federal government and the American people are forced to recognize the insecurity faced by America's low income communities and the need for change. Stephen Bradberry's work with ACORN exemplifies RFK's vision of community leadership.
While attending college in Louisiana, Stephen saw a state faced with the highest proportion of minimum wage jobs in the country. In 2002 he became the driving force behind one of our nations only successful livable wage campaigns. Stephen was able to unite the diverse interests of labor, religious leaders, and community organizations in New Orleans for the cause of economic justice. This resulted in sixty-three percent of New Orleans' voters backing a wage hike that affected 75,000 workers. The campaign produced a city ordinance in New Orleans increasing the minimum wage only to later be overturned in the Louisiana courts.
Robert Kennedy believed that each individual holds the power to invoke change and that "each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." In this spirit, The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honor courageous and innovative individuals striving for social justice throughout the world.
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award ceremony marks the beginning of a long-term partnership between the Stephen and the RFK Center for Human Rights that will put the rights of low income families on the national agenda.
Speakers for the event will be determined and the location is subject to change. Please go to www.rfkmemorial.org for the latest information on the event.
Source: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial
"..if men are to be free for that 'pursuit of happiness', which was the earliest promise of the American nation- we will need more than poverty programs, housing programs, and employment programs, although we need all of these. We will need an outpouring of imagination, ingenuity, discipline and hard work unmatched since the first adventurers set out to conquer the wilderness. For the problem is the largest we've ever known."-- Robert F. Kennedy, December 10th 1966