The Thomas Merton Award 2006 will honor Angela Y. Davis!
Angela Y. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. Over the years she has been active as a student, teacher, writer, scholar, and activist/organizer. She is a living witness to the historical struggles of the contemporary era.
Professor Davis' political activism began when she was a youngster in Birmingham, Alabama, and continued through her high school years in New York. But it was not until 1969 that she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the Philosophy Department at UCLA as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party, USA. In 1970 she was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her sixteen-month incarceration, a massive international "Free Angela Davis" campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.
Professor Davis' long-standing commitment to prisoners' rights dates back to her involvement in the campaign to free the Soledad Brothers, which led to her own arrest and imprisonment. Today she remains an advocate of prison abolition and has developed a powerful critique of racism in the criminal justice system. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Prison Activist Resource Center, and currently is working on a comparative study of women's imprisonment in the U.S., the Netherlands, and Cuba.Former California Governor Ronald Reagan once vowed that Angela Davis would never again teach in the University of California system. Today she is a tenured professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1994, she received the distinguished honor of an appointment to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies.
The award dinner will be on Friday, November 10th. Check back soon for more details.
Merton Awardees Over the
1972: James Carroll, currently columnist in the Boston Globe and author of “House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power.”
1973: Dorothy Day, pacifist, founded the first Catholic Worker (CW) in New York City in 1933. Today there are over 185 CW communities. Catholic Workers live a simple lifestyle in community, serve the poor and resist war and social injustice.
1974: Dick Gregory, ‘60s comedian, vegetarian, Civil Rights activist, a drum major for equal rights and nutritional consultant.
1975: Joan Baez, folk singer: "I can't tell you how boring it would be for me to give a concert and not have it connected with people's lives and suffering and real issues. There's no music for me outside of that." She lived her beliefs, founding the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence in California. Said Thomas Merton of her: “A precious, authentic, totally human person.”
1976: Dom Hélder Câmara “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” Archbishop of Recife, Brazil, he became renowned throughout the world as the inspirer of Latin America’s liberation theology movement.
1977: Dick Hughes, Pittsburgh man who went as a journalist to Vietnam. Meeting young boys made homeless by the war he first took them in, then was inspired to found the Shoeshine Boys Project, a hostel for street children in Vietnam.
1978: Bishop John Burt & Bishop James Malone co-founded the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley as the collapse of the steel industry devastated Youngstown and the lives of its workers. They fought to keep Youngstown Sheet & Tube from completely reneging on agreements with labor and to seek ways to reopen the mills. Despite the failure to keep jobs, they led the way as the struggle moved to Western PA.
1979: Helen Caldicott, co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility, helped found Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament. Her books, “Nuclear Madness” and “Missile envy,” helped spur U.S. disarmament movement, Nobel Peace Prize 1985. 1982 documentary “If You Love This Planet” won the Academy Award.
1980: William Winpisinger, International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM); founder and president of the Citizen/Labor Energy Coalition; and co-chair of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. Member, National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament, which supported converting from a military economy to a civilian economy.
1981: The People of Poland. Solidarność, the Polish trade union federation led by Lech Wałęsa, was founded in September 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyards and withstood martial law in 1981 and years of repression in a nonviolent campaign to force the government to negotiate with the union, a key event that helped spark other efforts that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
1982: Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen withheld half of his income tax to protest the stockpiling of nuclear weapons by the United States, as typified by the naval base on Puget Sound for Trident missile-equipped submarines. This action prompted the IRS to garnish his wages. A strong supporter of Vatican II, especially ecumenism and multicultural issues.
1983: no award
1984: Bernice Johnson Reagon Jailed for participating in a SNCC demonstration, she spent the night in jail singing songs. She joined the SNCC Freedom Singers to use music as a tool for civic action. Composed and produced much of the Sweet Honey in the Rock's renowned repertoire of traditional African and African American music.
1985: Henri Nouwen renowned author, teacher, spiritual guide whose passionate conviction that those rejected by society have essential and prophetic gifts to offer took shape during the 1960s through his involvement with the civil rights, peace and social justice movements. One of the 20th century’s most popular and prolific spiritual writers, he helped people deepen their spiritual foundations and cultivate community.
1986: Allan Boesak Through his prodding, in 1982 the World Alliance of Reformed Churches suspended the membership of the Afrikaner Reformed churches in South Africa, declared Apartheid a heresy and elected Boesak their president.
1987: Miguel D’Escoto, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, became foreign minister when Nicaragua was governed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (1979-1990).The U.S. had armed and supported the Contra death squads responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans so “we took the United States...to court, the World Court” where the government “received the harshest sentence, the harshest condemnation ever in the history of world justice.”
1988: Daniel Berrigan Jesuit priest, poet, writer. He, his brother Philip and Trappist monk Thomas Merton founded an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War. One of the Catonsville Nine, who removed 378 draft files from the draft board of Catonsville, Maryland, which they took outside and burned. He was one of the Plowshares Eight.
1989: Comrades of El Salvador & Elizabeth Linder. Mother of Ben Linder, an engineer who was murdered while working on a project to bring electricity to the village of El Cua, Nicaragua. Elizabeth courageously spoke out against the U.S.-backed wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador where Amnesty International reported that death squads and paramilitary groups were responsible for the systematic murder, torture and "disappearances" of suspected government opponents during the 1980s and early 1990s.
1990: Marian Wright Edelman In 1968 was counsel for the Poor People's Campaign. She founded the Washington Public Policy Resource Center which developed into the Children Defense Fund. She organized the Stand for Children March on behalf of children which brought hundreds of thousands to Wahington. “ If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much.”
1991: Howard Zinn His “A People's History of the United States” presents U.S. history through the eyes of ordinary people, Native Americans, slaves, unionists and other workers, women against patriarchy, of African-Americans and others whose stories, as Zinn suggests, are not often told in mainstream histories. The New York Times review suggested it be "required reading" for students. Zinn not only writes but acts on his beliefs. He helped to edit “The Pentagon Papers.”
1992: Molly Rush, staff organizer, co-founder of the Thomas Merton Center.
1993: Reverend Lucius Walker, leader of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), was Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ 1973-78. He founded Pastors for Peace, which organizes humanitarian aid caravans to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chiapas and Cuba for the victims of U.S. foreign policy.
1994: Richard Rohr OFM, a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province. He was the founder of the New Jerusalem Community in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1971, and the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1986. He has preached around the world. Among his books are, "Simplicity, the Wild Man's Journey" and "Hope Against Darkness."
1995: Marian Kramer In the front lines of the welfare rights and civil rights movement from its origin in the 1960s, she has co-chaired the National Welfare Rights Union (NWRU) an organization of, by and for the poor in America. She’s been committed to ending poverty in America by empowering the poor, especially women, and has been a mentor to college students fighting poverty.
1996: Winona LaDuke, Native American activist, environmentalist, economist and writer. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for Vice President on the Green Party ticket. She was involved in the struggle to recover lands promised to the Ojibwe by a 1867 treaty, helping the Ojibwe buy back thousands of acres of ancestral land. She was Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year in 1997.
1997: Ron Chisom went from janitor at Louisiana State University to medical researcher to community activist to leader of an international anti-racism training organization, the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond. He is committed to racial justice, leadership development and community empowerment. Today he advocates for the least of those, the victims of Katrina.
1998: Studs Terkel, legendary author of “Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression,” “American Dreams: Lost and Found,” Pulitzer Prize winner “The Good War: An Oral History of World War II” and “Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession.” “The Studs Terkel Program” ran on Chicago’s station WFMT from 1952 to 1997.
1999: Wendell Berry The New York Review of Books described him as a “Kentucky farmer and writer, and perhaps the great moral essayist of our day.” He says, “My work has been motivated by a desire to make myself responsible at home in this world and in my native and chosen place.” “A Place on Earth,” “Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community” and “ What Are People For?” are other works by Berry.
2000: Ronald V. Dellums In his 27 years in the U.S. House of Representatives he conducted hearings on the Vietnam War, founded the Congressional Black Caucus, was a consistent voice on Africa issues, and led campaigns against defense projects, saying the funds would be better spent on peaceful purposes, especially in U.S. cities. He was just elected Mayor of Oakland, CA.
2001: Sister Joan Chittister “Joan Chittister has been one of America's key visionary spiritual voices for more than 30 years.” said Bill Moyers. Her focus is on the moral responsibility to respond to the social, economic and political injustices plaguing our society. As co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women she helps facilitate a worldwide network of women peace builders, particularly in Israel and Palestine. She supports ordination of women in the Catholic Church. She currently co-chairs the Network of Spiritual Progressives.
2002: Bishop Leontyne T.C. Kelly in 1984 became the first African American bishop in a mainline denomination ( the United Methodist Church) and the First African Methodist Episcopal Female Bishop in 213 years. A remarkable preacher and a strong advocate of nonviolence, peace and justice.
2003: Kathy Kelly and Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end economic and military warfare against the Iraqi people. They organized more than 70 delegations to Iraq in deliberate violation of UN economic sanctions and U.S. law. In October 2002, she joined Iraq Peace Team members in Baghdad where they maintained a presence throughout the bombardment and invasion. She is currently in Lebanon helping to deliver supplies to people who have fled the violence.
2004: Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now! a national daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 300 stations in North America. She co-authored (with her brother, David Goodman) the national best-seller “The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them.”2005: Reverend Roy Bourgeois Maryknoll Priest who founded SOA Watch, a large, diverse, grassroots movement rooted in solidarity with the people of Latin America. The goal of SOA Watch is to close the School of the Americas, and to change U.S. foreign policy in Latin America by educating the public, lobbying Congress and participating in creative, nonviolent resistance.