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NEA honors America’s human and civil rights heroes

NEA will honor 13 of America’s human and civil rights heroes at its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner in Washington, DC - two of whom are Californians.  In addition to celebrating some of the nation’s leading civil and human rights activists, the ceremony commemorates the 1966 National Education Association-American Teachers Association merger and serves as a time of renewal while renewing a commitment to the social justice struggle that lies ahead.

Mary Ann Pacheco

Professor, Rio Hondo Community College; Whittier, Calif.

Following in the famous footsteps of César Chávez, Mary Ann Pacheco is a long-time advocate for improving the status of labor and the lives of workers, earning her NEA’s César Chávez Acción y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award. Pacheco is a staunch advocate of the DREAM Act. She has extended her passion and activism to fighting for the collective bargaining rights of higher education faculty members. She has spoken forcefully for academic freedom and union rights whenever and wherever they are threatened.

Stewart Kwoh

President and Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC); Los Angeles, Calif.

This year’s NEA Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award will be awarded to Stewart Kwoh for his work in education and his commitment to equal opportunities for Asians and Pacific Islanders. Kwoh has worked tirelessly for the inclusion of Chinese history, culture, language, as well as Chinese American history, in the Los Angeles public school system. Moreover, Kwoh has fought against stereotypes by combining muted diplomacy width steely determination to end discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We celebrate our civil rights heroes, both past and present, because the struggle for social justice continues and by holding up these heroes we inspire the next generation,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The people we honor at NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner, whether they are widely-acclaimed or unsung, motivate us to purposeful and principled action by providing a vision of what the world could be width cooperation and understanding.”

The annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner was originally created by the American Teachers Association (ATA), which represented Black teachers in segregated schools—and when NEA and ATA merged in 1966, NEA agreed to carry on this annual human and civil rights awards tradition. NEA members submit nominations for the annual awards.  Nominations are reviewed by NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Committee which makes recommendations to the NEA Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee determines the award recipients.

Detailed information and photos for each honoree may be found at:

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