#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors Wins $10,000 Edna Award

Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Awards and Edna Awards of Distinction Will Also Be Presented at November 12 Reception

Patrisse Cullors
Patrisse Cullors
WASHINGTON – Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, has been named winner of the Berger-Marks Foundation 2015 Edna Award for Social Justice. The Edna Award, which carries a $10,000 prize, honors women age 35 or younger who have distinguished themselves as social justice leaders. It is named after Edna Berger, the first woman organizer of The Newspaper Guild and the inspiration behind the Berger-Marks Foundation.

Ms. Cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter. As founder of Dignity and Power Now, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, and the director of Truth and Reinvestment for The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, she has worked tirelessly to promote law enforcement accountability across the nation. She led a think tank on state and vigilante violence for the 2014 Without Borders Conference and produced and directed a theatrical piece titled POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied.

Ms. Cullors will receive the Edna Award at an awards reception on Thursday, November 12th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Also to be honored with $1,000 Edna Awards of Distinction are: Neidi Dominguez, Director of Worker Centers and Assistant Director for Community Change at the AFL-CIO and Nelini Stamp, Co-Director of Rise Up Georgia.

“Patrisse, Neidi, and Nelini are inspirational examples of the young women leading today’s fights for justice all over this country,” said Linda Foley, President of the Berger-Marks Foundation Board of Trustees.

Judging the Edna Award contest this year were: Valerie Ervin, Former Executive Director of the Center for Working Families; Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union; Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women; Sara Steffens, Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America; and 2013 Edna Award winner Jennifer Epps-Addison, Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now.

At the November 12 event, the Foundation will also honor the three winners of the $1,000 Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Award. The award is named for an inspiring young laundry worker who, more than 150 years ago, organized one of the first women’s unions in an industry that was harshly exploiting them. It honors young women age 35 or younger who have stood up for workers’ rights and organized their own workplaces.

The three 2015 Kate Mullany Award winners are:
  • Stephanie Alejandro, a restaurant worker from Los Angeles, CA who organized her co-workers to fight wage theft and poor working conditions at their restaurant.
  • Anggie Godoy, a restaurant worker from Los Angeles, CA who organized her McDonald’s co-workers to Fight for 15.
  • Sarina Santos, a baggage handler at the Philadelphia International Airport who organized her fellow airport workers for a union and a living wage.
“We honor these young women for their steadfast commitment to workers’ rights,” says Foley, “Their strength in standing up in the workplace on behalf of all of their co-workers is a reminder that there is strength in numbers and young women can lead the way”.

The Berger-Marks Foundation was created by bequest of Tin Pan Alley composer Gerald Marks (“All of Me”) in honor of his wife, Edna Berger, who rose from being a receptionist to become the first woman organizer of The Newspaper Guild.

The Foundation seeks to change the gender balance of the labor movement by providing support and recognition for women labor leaders. The November 12th Award Reception is open to all who want to attend. To make reservations go to: https://2015ednakate.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Beth Becker at beth@beckerdigitalstrategies.com.