National Civil Rights Museum’s 28th Freedom Award Brings Top-Tier Talent to the Stage

Entertainment lineup includes honoree and award-winning artist John Legend, dance phenom Li’l Buck, award-winning poet Ed Mabrey, and classical harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet

Memphis, Oct. 09, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On October 30, the National Civil Rights Museum will host its 28th Freedom Award to pay tribute to their 2019 honorees, award-winning artist and activist John Legend, feminist Gloria Steinem and Nigerian activist Hafsat Abiola, for their achievements and contributions in the name of equality, social justice and freedom for all.  While attendees will witness another installment of civil rights history, they will also experience a night of excellent entertainment with honoree John Legend performing.

JOHN LEGEND is an award-winning entertainer, social justice activist and philanthropist. Legend has garnered ten Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, and an Emmy Award, making Legend the first African-American man to earn an EGOT. Legend has released six celebrated albums including, Get Lifted (2004), Once Again (2006), Evolver (2008), Love in the Future (2013), Darkness and Light (2016), and A Legendary Christmas (2018). Legend starred in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” in 2018, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special and nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor (Limited Series). Legend joined “The Voice” for Season 16 (2019), winning with his mentee Maelyn Jarmon and is currently on Season 17. John is a partner in Get Lifted Film Co., serving as an Executive Producer for "Southern Rites," “United Skates,” WGN America's "Underground," and films "Southside With You" and "La La Land." As a philanthropist, Legend initiated the #FREEAMERICA campaign in 2015 to change the national conversation surrounding our country’s misguided criminal justice policies and to end mass incarceration. 

Creative expression from some of the world’s most talented artists are also part of the celebration.  CHARLES “LIL BUCK” RILEY is a movement artist known for a unique style of dancing called Memphis Jookin’. After perfecting jookin’, he also studied ballet and has performed with Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: One, Benjamin Millipied, Yo Yo Ma, Janelle Monae and Madonna. FRÉDÉRIC YONNET, an urban jazz harmonicist, has used a common instrument to create an innovative artistry. He has shared stages with Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and the National Symphony Orchestra. ED MABREY is the only four-time World Poetry Slam Champion and an Emmy winner. He has performed on international stages and on television series, such as Verses & Flow.  

All entertainment will perform to the backdrop of the FREEDOM AWARD HOUSE BAND led by award-winning composer/musician, GARRY GOIN

“John Legend is not only a talented artist, he is also one who has used his international platform to educate, advocate and follow through on social justice issues that affect all to influence change,” said Terri Lee Freeman, National Civil Rights Museum President. “Throughout the years of freedom-fighting here and abroad, art has always been an impactful form of expression. We are excited to present an evening of purpose and stellar entertainment.”

OWN Network’s Greenleaf star and entertainer, LAMMAN RUCKER, will serve as ceremony host for the evening. Best known as the handsome star of Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married film sequel and hit sitcom Meet The Browns, Rucker has maintained a powerful screen presence as well as an award-winning acting range off-Broadway. He is also a spokesperson for several charitable efforts and community action initiatives.

The Freedom Award will also pay tribute to the Green Book, also known as the Negro Travelers’ Green Book, that identified safe accommodations and services for African Americans traveling during the Jim Crow Era.  The directory included the Lorraine Motel, the current site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Since 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum has presented The Freedom Award to some of the most lauded civil and human rights leaders and history makers in the world, including Coretta Scott King, President Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rosa Parks, Bono, Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Oscar Arias, President Mary Robinson, Paul Rusesabagina, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Tom Brokaw, Frank Robinson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Bernard Lafayette, Marlo Thomas, Usher Raymond, Bill Frist, Dolores Huerta, Rev. James Lawson, Cicely Tyson, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, Kirk Whalum, Southern Poverty Law Center, Susan Taylor, Rev. Bernice A. King, Hugh Masekela, Morris Dees, Vice President Joe Biden, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Pitt Hyde and others. 

The Freedom Award presenting sponsors are International Paper, FedEx Corporation, Hyde Family Foundations, Ford Motor Company and First Tennessee Foundation. 

Tickets and sponsorships are available at


About the National Civil Rights Museum

The NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, located at the historic Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, gives a comprehensive overview of the American Civil Rights Movement from slavery to the present. Since the Museum opened in 1991, millions of visitors from around the world have come, including more than 90,000 students annually. Serving as the new public square, the Museum is steadfast in its mission to honor and preserve the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.  It chronicles the American civil rights movement and tells the story of the ongoing struggle for human rights, serving as a catalyst to inspire action to create positive social change.  A Smithsonian Affiliate and an internationally acclaimed cultural institution, the Museum is recognized as a 2019 National Medal Award recipient by the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS), the top national honor for museums and libraries.  It is a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 5% U.S. Museum, USA Today's Top 10 Best American Iconic Attractions; Top 10 Best Historical Spots in the U.S. by TLC's Family Travel; Must See by the Age of 15 by Budget Travel and Kids; Top 10, American Treasures by USA Today; and Best Memphis Attraction by The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Business Journal.