A 4th to Remember: CIW honored as 2013 Four Freedoms Award Laureate!

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C. 

Roosevelt Institute to award CIW representatives Freedom from Want Medal October 16 in NYC

With Independence Day just around the corner, CIW members and Fair Food activists everywhere can celebrate with added cheer this year, as the CIW has been selected to receive the Roosevelt Institute’s prestigious Freedom from Want Medal for 2013 in recognition of our two decades of work on behalf of farmworkers’ human and economic rights and the unprecedented advances of the Fair Food Program!

In his January 6, 1941 State of the Union Speech (a speech delivered with the country on the brink of entering World War ll), President Franklin D. Roosevelt enumerated what he called the “four essential human freedoms.” Those freedoms, or fundamental human rights, would form the vision of a more just, peaceful world that would guide the country through the terrible sacrifices of the coming war years:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt, excerpted from the State of the Union Address to the Congress, January 6, 1941

Those freedoms would also come to be manifest in the formation of the United Nations, established in the years following the war, and form the four pillars of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a truly visionary document championed by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The preamble of the UN Declaration of Human Rights fittingly cites Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms:

“… Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,…” read more

And so it was with great pride (and a bit of surprise, truth be told) that we received the wonderful news that the CIW had been selected to receive is 2013 Freedom from Want Medal by the Roosevelt Institute, the New York-based organization, “devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing progressive ideas and bold leadership in the service of restoring America’s promise of opportunity for all.” The honor was particularly remarkable for the company in which the award places the CIW. From the Institute’s letter:

“We would be honored if the Coalition would consider accepting our Freedom from Want Medal. By accepting this award, you will join a noteworthy group of past laureates including Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Carlos Fuentes, Studs Terkel, Tom Brokaw, Hillary Clinton, Elie Wiesel, and Anthony Romero.”

This year’s honorees include:

  • Wendell Berry, Freedom Medal, author and environmentalist
  • Paul Krugman, Freedom of Speech Medal, Nobel Prize winning economist and writer
  • Ameena Matthews, Freedom from Fear Medal, Chicago-based anti-violence organizer
  • Sister Simone Campbell, Freedom of Religion, Executive Director of NETWORK

We will have more on this breaking news as plans for October’s award ceremony in New York City develop. For now, we will close by thanking the Roosevelt Institute for considering the CIW and the Fair Food Program for such an august award. We assure you that freedom will ring just a bit louder this year in Immokalee, and in farmworker communities everywhere, thanks to your deeply moving recognition of this movement for farmworkers’ fundamental human rights.