Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama is one of the newest recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award.
Obama along with the Poor People’s Campaign will receive the award in a virtual ceremony on Oct. 14. Since 1991, the Freedom Award has honored “individuals who have made significant contributions in civil rights and who have laid the foundation for present and future leaders in the battle for human rights.”
Past recipients include Nigerian human rights, civil rights and democracy activist Hafsat Abiola, social justice activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative Brian Stevenson statesman and civil rights leader John Lewis, and Yemini journalist Tawakkol Karman.
Obama became the nation’s first Black first lady in 2009 when her husband, Barack Obama, was elected the 44th president. During the Obama’s two terms in the White House, Michelle Obama led a global initiative to make education more accessible to young girls and adolescents. Other initiatives included Let’s Move, focused on healthier nutrition values and activity among children, and Joining Forces, which is geared toward helping service members and their families thrive in their communities.
The Poor People’s Campaign, which is named after the 1968 Poor People’s March on Washington, was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and works to combat the racial economic inequalities. The movement’s campaign leaders are the Rev. William Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis.
This year, Michelle Obama, along with eight other women, including author Octavia Butler and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, will be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame as the 2021 class. “During her eight years as First Lady,” said NWHF, Obama “helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, transforming the White House into the ‘People’s House. Since leaving the White House, she has continued to have a profound public impact.”
In the years since leaving her post at the White House, Obama has authored a memoir, “Becoming,” created a companion journal to the memoir and released a documentary about the multi-city “Becoming” book tour.
“Those months I spent traveling — meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe — drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with,” she said in a statement about the documentary. “In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams. We processed the past and imagined a better future. In talking about the idea of ‘becoming,’ many of us dared to say our hopes out loud.”
The Chicago native and lawyer also teamed up with her husband to produce several film projects under the duo’s Higher Ground Productions, including this year’s Netflix hit “Fatherhood.”