Washington, D.C., May 18, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored longtime civil rights leader Wade Henderson with its inaugural Securing Justice Award in honor of his “transformational” leadership over two decades at the head of one of the country’s most influential civil and human rights coalitions.
“Wade has been at the epicenter of every major civil rights battle and victory over the last 20 years,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO and National Director, said in presenting the award. “He has been such a transformational leader, and his work so perfectly embodies the essence of ADL’s mission, ‘To stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.’ So we decided to create a new award inspired by our shared mission, the ADL Securing Justice Award.”
Henderson recently announced he was stepping down after two decades as president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund. He accepted the award on May 17 at a luncheon in front of more than 500 activists from across the country gathered for ADL’s 2016 National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.
“I am completely overwhelmed and humbled by that very gracious introduction and I don’t think I’ve ever had an introduction quite like that, so it is as unique as the award you that are presenting,” Mr. Henderson said in accepting the award. “I can’t tell you how humbled I am by this incredible recognition and by the fact that it is an organization whose membership, collaboration and friendship I value more than I can say.”
An attorney and tireless civil rights leader and advocate, Henderson is credited for his leadership in successes such as reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, reducing sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine, promoting educational equity, advancing fair pay for women, and helping to enact the most important federal hate crime enforcement measure in the past 40 years, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
He has brought that same passion and credibility to the fight against anti-Semitism and hate around the world, Greenblatt noted, citing Henderson’s outspoken stand against the anti-Semitism that emerged during the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, as well as his work in 2014 organizing a group of 20 civil and human rights leaders to attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where they presented a hard-hitting declaration and set of recommendations for governments to combat anti-Semitism.
The award presented to Mr. Henderson cites a verse in Hebrew and English: Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof – Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue.
The Leadership Conference is the nation’s premier civil and human rights coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States.
Established in 2016, the ADL Securing Justice Award is given to an individual who has successfully worked to inspire and empower people and bring them together in support of bending the arc towards justice, towards equality and religious liberty, and towards interfaith and intergroup understanding.