The Seventh Annual Clara Lemlich Awards

When: Monday, May 1, 6:30pm

The Seventh Annual Clara Lemlich Awards will be held at the Puffin Gallery for Social Activism at the Museum of the City of New York, now home to the acclaimed exhibition Activist New York

“I’ve Got Something to Say” – The Lemlich Awards – will celebrate six amazing women who qualify as unsung heroines for their lifelong commitment to social activism. An award for giving, with a poem and a rose for the swag, the recipients are sometimes surprised there is such an honor. The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 pm and the program will begin at 7:15 pm.

The Lemlich Awards honor women who have been working for the larger good their entire lives, in the tradition of those who sparked so many reforms in the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire over one hundred years ago.

We honor—in the words of the poet Marge Piercy—people who:

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shadows…

who do what has to be done, again and again.

Hosted by the Puffin Gallery for Social Activism at the Museum, created by LaborArts and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, the Lemlich Awards have celebrated women who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others. Watch video of past honorees.

The program will include rousing performances from the New York City Labor Chorus as well as 17-year old singer-songwriter Annie diRusso and remarks from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Other special guests include:

Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Sasha Matthews, 12-year-old “everyday superheroes” cartoonist; and Queens-based rapper Kalie Kamara.

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The 2017 Clara Lemlich Award honorees are…

Vinie Burrows is an amazing actor, author, radio host, teacher and fighter against war, violence and racism, an active member of The Dramatist Guild, recipient of Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award and other honors.  Burrow’s artistry intersects with justice as she uses it as a vehicle informing and advocating for social change, locally and globally.  While the major thrust of her life has been to carry the message of peace, justice and reconciliation through theatre art, Ms. Burrows expanded her political and social effectiveness serving as Permanent Representative (now Emerita) at the United Nations for the Women's International Democratic Federation, a non-governmental organization with members in 160 countries.

Aisha al-Adawiya is the founder of Women In Islam, which focuses on human rights and social justice.  She organizes and participates in conferences, and other forums on Islam, gender equity, conflict resolution, cross-cultural understanding, and peace building, and represents Muslim women’s non-governmental organizations at United Nations forums. Ms. al-Adawiya coordinates Islamic input for the Preservation of the Black Religious Heritage Documentation Project of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and serves as a consultant to numerous interfaith organizations and documentary projects on the Muslim American experience. Additionally, she serves on the boards of numerous organizations related to the interests of the global Islamic community. 

Lidia Correa spent much of her life as a sample maker and was very active in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.  Coming to New York City from Puerto Rico in her teens, she followed her mother into the garment industry. As a young seamstress, Lidia participated in the 1958 Dressmakers strike all along the east coast, where she learned a lot about the union and worker solidarity. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, worked in other fields, but soon went back to garment industry, where as a unionized sample maker, she made a good salary. Over the years, Lidia worked as a sample maker for several major design houses including Liz Claiborne and became very active in the union. She worked as an organizer, in the education department and later with retirees, leading trips and planning political actions, all the while staying involved with community groups in her neighborhood in the Bronx.  Now long retired, Lidia continues to show up on picket lines and protests, and currently works helping new retirees navigate applications for pensions and other services from the current garment workers' union, Workers United. 

Mary Douglas had a long career as an elementary school teacher in the Bronx, and when she retired, she trained as a nurse’s assistant in order to volunteer at St Barnabas hospital. She recently (in her late 80s) participated in additional training so she could volunteer to do hospice work. She was married to Fredrick Douglas.

Ingrid Frank arrived in the United States at age 12, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who was soon awakened to America’s racial injustice.  Marching on a “Free the Scottsboro Boys” picket line at 14 was the start of a lifetime of civil rights activism, of organizing and marching and protesting, for fair housing, for Dr. King’s  Poor People's Campaign, on through a “Hip Hop Heals” campaign supporting Barack Obama.  She met George Richardson, her husband, at a 1963 demonstration to integrate the construction industry – he was the only black member of the New Jersey Legislature.  They have worked on human rights struggles and protested together ever since. 

Lubow Wolynetz   preserves cultural traditions of her native Ukraine at the Ukrainian museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and fosters appreciation of those traditions by teaching embroidery and other arts and crafts to NYC students of all ages and cultures from all over the world.   “For Ukrainians,” Lubow says, folk art “is the creativity of self-taught people who have no professional background. It is important because folk art, traditions, and language are what kept our identity and helped people preserve themselves as a distinct ethnic group." 

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