Established shortly after the death of a man during a civil-rights protest in Cleveland, a new committee was established “to deal with racial problems in the city and improve community relations…and work on problems affecting the African-American community, such as education, employment and housing.”
Today’s news? It could be. But it’s not.
It’s a description of the Businessmen’s Interracial Committee on Community Affairs, the winner of the first Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award in 1964.
For more than 50 years, the Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award has honored the interests of its founder, Edith Anisfield Wolf, to give attention to the voices of people at the margins and build a more just community.
Whether by recognizing outstanding work that primarily benefited a particular group “at the margins” or an organization’s efforts to benefit the larger population, the award annually pays tribute to nonprofit organizations that have impacted the community for good.
How does awarding an organization give a voice to the people it serves?
- 1965’s winner, PACE Association (Plan [or Program] for Action by Citizens in Education), was a local citizens’ group that worked to help improve the quality of education and promote better race relations in Greater Cleveland schools.
- 1971’s winner, the Urban League of Cleveland, worked toward racial harmony, fair housing, public education and skills development for better jobs.
- 1981’s winner, the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, focused on providing food to those living in poverty who lacked access to regular nutritious meals.
- 1992’s winner, the Young African-American Reclamation Project of Community Re-Entry, helped both young African-Americans who lived in public housing and impoverished neighborhoods and young people who had the potential to become involved in the adult criminal justice system.
- 2003’s winner, the AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland, provided a variety of services and supports to those impacted by HIV/AIDS.
- 2011’s winner, Esperanza Inc., created a youth service learning program that had a direct impact in the Clark-Metro neighborhood, as well as in other parts of the city.
- 2014’s winner, Care Alliance Health Center, created a new clinic, significantly increasing access to quality health care while having broad impact on economic development in the Central Neighborhood.
- 2018’s winner, My Brother My Sister helped young people of color stay in school, graduate high school and go on to college.
How does awarding an organization give a voice to the people it serves? First, it shines a spotlight on the issues the people served struggle with day in and day out. People who often may feel unnoticed and silenced. Second, it provides unexpected funds to help continue or enhance the service, thereby helping those people improve their lives, find their voices and, often, go on to help others.
The Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award is just as relevant today, if not more so, than when it was established.
The Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award is just as relevant today, if not more so, than when it was established. It honors the intent of its founder to recognize efforts to create a stronger community that celebrates a rich diversity of cultures.
Nominations for this year’s award will be accepted until July 16, 2020. Find information here.
Some information from Encyclopedia of Cleveland History