marvelous memphis: national civil rights museum freedom awards.

a few weeks ago i had the privilege of attending this year’s national civil rights museum freedom awards. jen wound up with an extra ticket and very generously offered it to me; i sent an enthusiastic ‘yes’ within seconds of receiving her text.

as the museum states, the freedom award “honors outstanding individuals for their significant contributions to civil and human rights.” this year’s recipients were hafsat abiola, gloria steinem, and john legend. you can imagine my excitement.

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we fancy up well. memphis, tennessee. october 2019.

i met jen at the halloran for the pre-show party, complete with food and drinks and even a red carpet for us to walk. it was crazy crowded but also fun to see everyone dressed up and having fun.

once we finished at the party we made our way next door to the orpheum to find our box and settle into our seats. we had an unobstructed view of the stage and enjoyed the live music while we waited. lil’ buck opened things up with a dance, and we were off to a great start.

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this was one of the coolest nights of my life. memphis, tennessee. october 2019.
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hafsat abiola. memphis, tennessee. october 2019.

terri freeman, the president of the museum, gave an incredible welcome, and then we got to hear from each of the award winners. all three had some wonderful things to share, including the following —

hafsat abiola: “what humanity needs now is human reconnection”

gloria steiem: “never go anywhere that they won’t let you laugh”

john legend: “we have to keep struggling for justice, peace, equality. they’re worth fighting for”

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gloria steinem. memphis, tennessee. october 2019.
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john legend. memphis, tennessee. october 2019.

following the presentations of the award winners there was a tribute to the negro motorists’ green book [all attendees received a copy!] – including a spoken word piece by ed mabrey – and then john legend performed ‘preach’ and ‘glory’. it was fantastic.

once the ceremony finished, we migrated back over to the halloran for ice cream, which was the absolute cherry on top of what was already an amazing evening.

this is an event i have wanted to attend for years, and i am so grateful to jen for inviting me to be her plus-one. it was a night i will remember for a long time to come.


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