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Four Freedoms Awards Return to NYC to Honor Wendell Berry and Other Distinguished Progressive Voices

04 September 2013

Wendell Berry, Paul Krugman, Sister Simone Campbell, Ameena Matthews, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will receive the 2013 Four Freedoms Medals in a ceremony at St. James’ Episcopal Church in New York City on October 16.

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 04, 2013 – For the first time in decades, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards will return to New York City on Wednesday, October 16. The Awards recognize those who exemplify the vision of democracy in President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Address, including poet, farmer, and conservationist Wendell Berry, who will receive the overall Freedom Medal for his message of personal responsibility to one’s community and environment. The free public ceremony will be held at St. James’ Episcopal Church at 865 Madison Avenue, to be followed by a private reception at the Asia Society. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the ceremony will begin promptly at 6 p.m.

“The Four Freedoms Address succinctly expresses what democracy is all about. My grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, believed this, worked for it, and lived it. It is, to this day, a rousing call to action and an enduring message of hope for people all over the world,” said Anna E. Roosevelt, chair of the Roosevelt Institute’s Board of Directors. “I am pleased to see the Awards ceremony in New York City this year and hope even more people can engage with the work of this year’s outstanding laureates.”

In addition to Berry’s Freedom Medal, four laureates will receive medals representing each of the Four Freedoms: Economist and author Paul Krugman will receive the Freedom of Speech and Expression Medal for challenging economic orthodoxy and advancing a more equitable vision of society; Violence Interrupter Ameena Matthews will receive the Freedom from Fear Medal for her work to prevent violence on the streets of Chicago; the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will receive the Freedom from Want Medal for their efforts to improve labor conditions for Florida’s agricultural workers; and NETWORK director Sister Simone Campbell will receive the Freedom of Worship Medal for championing social justice in the health care reform debate.

“Until I was notified of this award, I had not expected it,” said Berry. “Even less had I imagined that I might be thought worthy of it. And so I am pleased, of course, both personally and for the sake of the causes I have tried to serve. I am especially moved by this award’s commemoration of President Franklin Roosevelt, whose help to my region and my people under the New Deal was intelligently given and urgently needed.”

“I’m enormously flattered by anything that associates me with FDR and the New Deal,” said Krugman. “FDR’s Four Freedoms were all about doing whatever we can to produce a better society – not a utopian dream, but a more decent, fairer, freer place where people can lead good lives. And that’s the project we’re still working on to this day.”

Matthews said that her award brought to mind a quote from FDR’s cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, who said, “I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.” Matthews added, “To be recognized by the Roosevelt Institute for my work is not only an honor but a validation.”

“When we started organizing 20 years ago in Immokalee, we would gather in a borrowed room at a local church and pass around these blue, pocket-sized copies of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which of course contains the Four Freedoms in its Preamble and was championed by the First Lady,” said Gerardo Reyes of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. “Our work today advancing the human rights of workers in the agricultural industry is deeply rooted in that most inspirational of the Roosevelts’ many legacies, which is why there is no recognition that is more appropriate — or could make us more proud — than to receive the Freedom from Want Medal.”

Since 1963, the Four Freedoms Awards have been presented in alternating years by the Roosevelt Institute in the U.S. and Roosevelt Stichting in the Netherlands. Past recipients have included Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Presidents Truman, Carter, and Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Studs Terkel, and Barbara Ehrenreich, among others.

For more information on the Four Freedoms Awards or the 2013 laureates, please contact Tim Price.

About the Roosevelt Institute

The Roosevelt Institute is an ideas and leadership organization founded in the belief that America should offer opportunity to all. To develop a new social contract for the 21st century, we advance the work of progressive economists and social policy thinkers and support an emerging generation of leaders as they design solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues.


Tim Price
Roosevelt Institute 
+1 (212) 493-3323