Gov. Winter receives national civil rights Freedom Award

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Former Gov. William Winter.

Rogelio V. Solis, AP

Former Gov. William Winter

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter will receive the Freedom Award.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis will present the award, which honors women and men whose work in civil and human rights have made global and national impact, to Winter on Oct. 20.

“Gov. Winter turns 94 in February, and he has spent his lifetime working for all of the people in Mississippi,” said Christopher Schultz, director of development and communications at The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford. “It is really wonderful to have this recognition for the work he does. He works every day, and it is being recognized beyond the borders of our state among international luminaries for the cause of social justice.”

Winter will join past Freedom Award recipients including President Bill Clinton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, human-rights activist Tawakkol Karman, baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, journalist Soledad O’Brien and civil-rights activists Dr. Dorothy Cotton and Robert “Bob” Moses.

In addition to the recognition, the Freedom Award comes with a $10,000 honorarium, which Winter will dedicate to his namesake institute at the University of Mississippi. The institute will use the money to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise another $10,000 to bolster its initiatives.

Among them is the Summer Youth Institute, which brings a diverse group of 28 rising high school sophomores and juniors to Oxford for nine days to learn about civil rights and advocacy. Over the course of their stay, they develop a project that bridges one of their interests with a need in their community and commit to developing the project for two years.

“Anytime a community approaches the Winter Institute and needs help overcoming any issues from the past regarding race or other discrimination based on difference, the institute goes and works in those communities without charging them,” Schultz said. “Every dollar the Winter Institute gets allows them to continue doing this work.”

The Winter Institute plans to launch a web portal and social media campaign to aid in promoting the crowdfunding effort.