An Awards Ceremony Worth Watching

by Marisol Bello | September 23, 2011 9:18 am

The Emmy Awards were recently handed out and as usual, the biggest news was who was wearing what. And as usual, the TV ratings were dismal. Well, last night I went to an awards ceremony that was extremely worth watching. But the recipients of this year’s Community Change Championn awards don’t do what they do to win awards. They do it to help make positive changes in the lives of all Americans.

There was one thing that was the same as the Emmys though. The six recipients sure have a lot of fans. Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, praised the six for standing up, speaking out, mobilizing, organizing and doing everything else it takes to start a movement and keep it going.

Emcee Van Jones said it is the work of great movements that brings great change.

And great and significant change is what the six recipients have accomplished.

Quinn Delaney, president of Akonadi Foundation, has worked to support and nurture a racial justice movement that will put an end to the structural racism that exists at the heart of social inequity in America.

George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East, has worked to bring equality and fairness in the workplace for hundreds and thousands of workers.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, has been the champion of immigrant rights in his state at a time of great oppressiveness.

Pramila Jayapal, founder and executive director of One America, has worked to advance the fundamental principles of democracy and justice through building power in immigrant communities.

Frances Fox Piven, distinguished professor of political science and sociology of the City University of New York, has deftly combined her political reform efforts with her scholarly work.

And Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, has helped advance immigrant and workers rights in the state of Wisconsin.

There are many phrases and superlatives I could write to describe the work of all the recipients. But I think George Gresham summed it up best when he said sometimes he would get so passionate about his work that he would start cursing like, well, a union guy. That was until an SEIU member suggested he channel all that energy into one word that says it all: Hallelujah.

Hallelujah to the six Community Change Champion awards. And a big hallelujah to the social justice movement.

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