New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Receives ADL's Highest Honor

New York, NY, June 7, 2020 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today honored New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with its highest honor, the America’s Democratic Legacy Award, for prioritizing efforts and proposing important initiatives to combat antisemitism in the state. 

The award was presented by Esta Gordon Epstein, Chair of ADL’s Board of Directors, at its annual National Leadership Summit, which was held virtually this year The ADL America’s Democratic Legacy Award was established more than 50 years ago to recognize “those precious few individuals who have helped make our nation a place where freedom, equality and democracy are cherished rights forever.”

“Governor Cuomo’s leadership in times of crisis – from the surge of violent antisemitism we saw in late 2019, to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and now as we finally deal with the open wound of systemic racism inflicted upon the Black community – embodies exactly what we expect out of those we elect to serve the people,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.

“We are tremendously grateful to Governor Cuomo for his strong work in fighting the scourge of antisemitism, including introducing the ‘No Hate in Our Sate’ program ,” said Greenblatt.  “Following a string of antisemitic assaults in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Governor Cuomo took decisive action to provide increased protection of those vulnerable Jewish communities – which was desperately needed.”

Included in the ‘No Hate in Our State’ program is legislation that would, for the first time, classify mass violence motivated by hate as domestic terrorism -- an A-1 class felony punishable by up to life in prison without parole.

Governor Cuomo is the 56th governor of the state of New York and has been in office since 2011. Under his leadership, New York State has passed marriage equality, a $15 minimum wage, greater protection for immigrants from draconian federal immigration policies, and he led the state in becoming the first in the nation to provide free college-tuition for middle class families.

“I’m proud that together we now have passed the most aggressive agenda in the nation to combat hate,” said Governor Cuomo in accepting the award. “It was not easy to get that law [No Hate in Our State] passed, but the ADL was there, and you mobilized, and you showed how effective you are at what you do. Thank you for that support – we could not have done that without you.”

Previous award recipients include former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman; as well as Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Justice Earl Warren, Saul Bellow, George Tenet, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Lee Iacocca, Walter Annenberg, Dwayne Andreas and Cardinal John O’Connor.

The award has also been presented to distinguished institutions including Harvard University, The New York Times and the Columbia Broadcasting System.

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.