EJI Director Bryan Stevenson awarded National Humanities Medal

EJI founder Bryan Stevenson was among the National Humanities Medal recipients.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2023 at 10:40 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (WSFA) - A nationally known figure in helping the underserved traveled from Montgomery to the White House this week for a special honor.

Equal Justice Initiative Director Bryan Stevenson was among 24 people honored by President Joe Biden with the 2021 National Medals of Arts in conjunction with the National Humanities Medals.

Stevenson was among 11 recipients of the National Humanities Medals. The National Endowment for the Humanities describes these medals as honoring “an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history or literature, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.”

Stevenson was honored “for his moral call to redeem the soul of our Nation,” the White House citation says. He is described as “An advocate fighting tirelessly for the poor, incarcerated, and condemned, Bryan Stevenson follows the Book of Micah’s instruction to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly as he chronicles the legacy of lynching and racism in America, shining a light on what has been and all that we can be as a Nation.”

The EJI, which was founded by Stevenson, says the award recognizes the organization’s work too, which it describes as having “provided legal representation to people sentenced to death, children prosecuted as adults, and people who have been abused and treated unfairly in the criminal legal system.”

The medal also honors EJI’s public history work, including the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which teaches about the nation’s history of racial injustice and how its legacy informs effective approaches to addressing inequality and injustice today.

Other humanities medal recipients include academic pioneer Johnnetta Betsch Cole, historian Earl Lewis, Native American academic Henrietta Mann and authors Amy Tan and Colson Whitehead.

Biden also presented the National Medal of the Arts - the nation’s highest award for artists - to 12 recipients, including Gladys Knight, Mindy Kaling, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bruce Springsteen and Jose Feliciano.

This was Biden’s first time hosting the awards ceremony, which was postponed due to the COVID-9 pandemic.

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