ADL Honors Heroes in the Fight Against Bigotry, Antisemitism

Debra Messing hosted first virtual ADL In Concert Against Hate, which recognized a Holocaust survivor, educators and a 4th grade activist who are fighting injustice

New York, December 7, 2020 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) recognized two individuals and one group for their extraordinary courage and compassion when confronted with injustice and extremism as part of the 26th annual ADL In Concert Against Hate.

This year’s event, which was held virtually on Dec. 6, was hosted by Debra Messing, and featured performances from an array of talent including Adam Levine, George Takei, Aloe Blacc, Ifetayo Ali-Landing, Olivia Boisson, Andra Day, Jason Isbell, Bebe Neuwirth, Kenny Loggins, Rafe Perlman, Grace Love and Bob Costas.

The concert included also special celebrity greetings from Lily Tomlin, Paul Shaffer, Lewis Black, Jason Alexander, Ronny Chieng, Scott Wolf, Peter Yarrow and Lizzy Caplan.

Actors, musicians, civil rights leaders, policymakers, and friends of ADL joined the free event to celebrate this year’s honorees, each of whom has stood up to hate, injustice, and bias so that others will not have to experience the same. The individuals, who were presented with the ADL Kay Family Award, are:

  • Gerda Weissmann Klein

Born in Poland, Klein is a Holocaust survivor, author and human rights activist. As the founder of Citizenship Counts, she teaches about the privilege and responsibility of American citizenship and shares the healing power of optimism. In 2011, Klein received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  • Team Brownsville

After seeing the hardships of and indignities endured by asylum seekers just across the border from their hometown of Brownsville, Texas, these five educators were moved to act. Their team of volunteers provides humanitarian assistance and builds community across borders.

  • Bellen Woodard

As a 9-year-old living in Virginia, Woodard questioned why the “skin-colored” crayon meant “peach.” Her More Than Peach Project fosters conversations that change perceptions and empower students.

“Hatred can seem unyielding and unending, but there are individuals in every community everywhere doing extraordinary things to fight back against bigotry,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “The individuals we recognized made a real difference, and they showed us that there is light in the darkness. Particularly in this time when we all face so many challenges, we need reminders that progress can be made and good can be done in the world. I’m grateful that we had this opportunity to share their stories and encourage others.”

This year’s concert was brought to a global audience for the first time, and major events sponsored by ADL regional offices in several cities coincided with the national concert. Some highlights from those regional events include:

  • The ADL Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta honored Rep. Calvin Smyre, Dean of the Georgia House of Representatives, and his colleague, Rep. Chuck Efstration for their bipartisan efforts to pass hate crimes legislation. Katie Kirkpatrick, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, was also honored with the ADL Southeast Torch of Liberty Award. The local event also featured singer-songwriter and social activist Peter Yarrow.
  • ADL Midwest featured remarks from PJ Hill, Minneapolis community activist and former basketball player who organized multiple marches following the murder of George Floyd; Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin, who spoke about why the Bucks players and organization led a playing boycott in support of racial justice; and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
  • The Philadelphia and Cleveland regional offices presented the Courage Award to Dr. Rachel Levine, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, who is transgender, at an event that also featured remarks from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
  • The ADL Pacific Northwest Region featured remarks from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Gary Locke, Former Washington governor and former U.S. Commerce Secretary, and featured a keynote address by Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center.
  • ADL’s Austin, Texas Regional Office honored Harvey M. Burg, a lifelong civil rights activist and founder of the first integrated law firm in Alabama with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The event also featured remarks from Tracy Frydberg, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, State of Israel; the Hon. Rudolph “Rudy” Metayer, Pflugerville City Council Member and President of the Texas Black Caucus Foundation; and SaulPaul, GRAMMY-nominated Musician with a Message.
  • The Washington, D.C., regional event featured remarks from Alysa Cooper, granddaughter of this year’s concert honoree, Gerda Weissmann Klein; and Debbie Levy, an award-winning author whose works have helped young people understand the fight for justice and hate in all forms.
  • ADL’s Florida Region featured remarks from Jason Jenkins, Senior Vice President of the Miami Dolphins, a regional board member and ADL Aspen Institute Civil Society Fellow, along with Miami Dolphins players; and Ray Allen, NBA Hall of Famer and past ADL Torch of Liberty Award recipient.
  • ADL’s Michigan Region featured remarks from Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, D-MI.
  • ADL’s Heartland Region featured a video, “We Got This,” made by students participating in ADL’s No Place for Hate program at The College School in St. Louis, MO.
  • ADL’s New York/New Jersey Regional Office presented the 2020 Edward Brodsky Founders Award to Gregg L. Weiner, co-chair of ADL’s NY/NJ Lawyers Division and a partner at Ropes & Gray LLP; and the 2020 Sidney Wilf Distinguished Young Leadership Award was presented to Benjamin M. Seigel, ADL NextGen Advisory Board Member and VP in Global Markets Engineering at Goldman Sachs.

The first ADL In Concert Against Hate was held in 1995 as a special event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. The concert honored the memory of four individuals who are recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” – non-Jews who rescued Jews from the Nazis. Response to the concert was so overwhelming that what was supposed to be a one-time celebration was transformed into an annual tradition, which brings thousands together to be inspired by the stories of real heroes and to stand up against all forms of bigotry, injustice and extremism.

For more information, visit https://www.adlconcert.org/concert.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.