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NEA Press Release

BREAKING: NEA announces recipients of its 2023 Human and Civil Rights Awards

Highest and most prestigious awards ceremony will take place on July 2, 2023
Published: June 3, 2023
This article originally appeared on

WASHINGTON—The National Education Association will honor ten exemplary individuals and organizations with its highest and most prestigious awards, the NEA Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Awards, on July 2, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The theme of the 56th annual HCR Awards Dinner is Speaking the Truth, Standing our Power.

“The truth is a beacon leading us toward the future. The recipients of NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Awards are standing in truth, using their collective power to protect our students, families, and communities, and defending our democracy,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “By speaking the truth and standing in their power, they are fighting for what we know is right. Creating a racially and socially just, safe, and equitable public education is a pillar of our democracy. They are demanding truth, literacy, and justice for every student no matter their gender, ZIP code, or race. They are standing fearlessly against politicians who are censoring the truth of our history, restricting our freedoms, and erasing our members, students, and their families. Holding strong to the truth, they will continue to advance human and civil rights in America.”

Meet the deserving, accomplished recipients of the 2023 NEA HCR Awards:

The Latino Center of the Midlands, recipient of the George I. Sanchez Memorial Award

When community organizations intentionally and thoughtfully partner with public schools, the impact on students is overwhelmingly positive. The Latino Center of the Midlands is one of those organizations. Founded initially as the Chicano Awareness Center (CAC), the Center was established in 1971 to address concerns about the education of Chicano youth, which was a great need in Omaha, Neb.

Alex Red Corn, recipient of the Wilma Mankiller Memorial Award

“Just as our ancestors have always done, we are persistent in asserting our rights to exist as a people. Our persistence must triumph [over] the pernicious status quos we are constantly enduring because our future depends on it. So we press on,” explains Alex Red Corn, an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation who works as an activist, advocate, and university educator in Kansas. His advocacy led the Kansas Board of Directors to make a strong recommendation that school districts retire the use of the American Indian mascots and imagery.

Arlene Inouye, recipient of the Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Award

An educator, labor leader, activist, and keeper of culture, Arlene Inouye has spent most of her life uplifting the plight and contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders to American society.

Cartier Scott, recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Award

A Suncoast Community High School math teacher in Riviera Beach, Fla., and a track coach at Keiser University, Scott is also an active member of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association and the Florida Education Association. He is known for his relatability and unique ability to inspire students to be their best authentic selves.

Dirk Andrews, recipient of the Virginia Uribe Memorial Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights

A passionate NEA director and local union president, Dirk Andrews advocates for a better world for the LGBTQ+ community in Wyoming and across the country. As a Wyoming Education Association Safe and Just Schools cadre member, he facilitates a frequently requested session on LGBTQ+ rights in education, designed to help eliminate discriminatory and abusive behavior toward LGBTQ+ people. He helps NEA members, school leaders, and community members develop programs that help defend students’ rights and help them feel welcome and seen at their schools in Wyoming.

Jeanette Arellano, recipient of the César Chávez Acción y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award

Jeanette Arellano uses her artistic talent to organize groups across racial and ethnic backgrounds to support and empower workers and their families. She serves as the art educator at Hayes Bilingual School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a Milwaukee Teachers Education Association leader. Arellano is a steadfast activist who combines labor relations techniques, grassroots organizing, and art builds to improve working conditions for the working class and immigrant workers. In her work with Voces de la Frontera, a local immigrants’ rights organization, she leads art builds and tutors community members with English proficiency and literacy and for the United States citizenship exam.

Derron C. Cook, recipient of the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Award

Described as a griot in his community, Derron C. Cook is an art and media educator, local association president, and Black history enthusiast in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. Through his youth organization, Motionphics In Action, he engages students from marginalized communities in fine arts, media arts, and travel education to teach students African American History.

Grace Mayer, recipient of the Mary Hatwood Futrell Award

Educator and president of NEA-Santa Fe, N.M., Grace Mayer is a relentless fighter and effective organizer. Her advocacy led to a successful victory for her members and their families. In addition to collectively bargaining for higher wages, she leveraged federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to help the school district open its first high-quality, low-cost early childhood day care center for educators in an elementary school to serve the children of more than 40 of its members.

Hope Restores, recipient of the Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award

Hope Restores educates the public about the issues related to the impact of poverty on children. All their services aim to help People of Color receive tangible resources that support their need. Based out of La Crosse, Wis., Hope Restores partnered with the Parenting Place to offer the FAST (Families and Schools Together) program, allowing families to build connections with the school community that will benefit their children for a lifetime.

Arthur Tanderup, recipient of the H. Councill Trenholm Memorial Award

A retired educator and current Nebraska farmer, Arthur Tanderup is known as a pipeline fighter, water protector, Ponca corn planter, solar booster, tractor crop artist, and Washington Monument reflecting pool-wader building bridges and leading coalitions for environmental justice, human and civil rights, and racial and social justice. Since 2014, he and his ally members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota have been fighting the opposition to the proposed extension of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

About the NEA HCR Awards

The merger of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Teachers Association (ATA) in 1966 produced the annual NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards. ATA, which represented Black teachers in segregated schools, traditionally honored leaders in the justice and civil rights movement annually. Since the merger, NEA has recognized and honored educators, individuals, community partners, and organizations that are advancing the mantle for human and civil rights.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: #EdJustice #NEAHCRAwards @NEAMedia.

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