Press Release

ADL Presents Americanism Award to Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

New York, NY, December 17, 2015 … After walking in the footsteps of civil rights leaders in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, a group of leaders from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta for their work teaching the history of the civil rights struggle and keeping alive the legacy of Dr. King.

More than 40 Jewish community leaders from across the country attended the award ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the King Center in Atlanta after having spent two days on a civil rights mission to historical sites in Alabama and Georgia commemorating the struggle for voting rights and equality.  The ADL Civil Rights mission was led by Marvin D. Nathan, who recently began his three-year tenure as ADL National Chair.

“The King Center, like the Anti-Defamation League, has made a commitment to teach people about the past and to use those lessons to work toward a better future,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said in presenting the award to Bernice King, CEO of the King Center.  “Every day, the center keeps Dr. King’s legacy alive, teaching us about the power of non-violence and the incredible, tireless work that brought an end to segregation, secured the right to vote for millions of Americans, and ushered in a better era for America.”

In accepting the award, Ms. King recalled the words written by her late father in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in which he addressed those of his fellow clergyman who criticized his nonviolent ways as “extremist,” and asked, “Will we be extremists for hate or for love?” 

“When I look at the world we live in today, I surmise that we need more people who will be an extremist for love.  Not just in thought, but in action,” Ms. King said.   She went on to praise ADL’s leaders for taking the time to visit the most important sites of the civil rights era.

“I want to commend you on including this kind of tour in the work that you do,” she told ADL’s leaders. “I believe that this movement is one of the most important eras in our nation’s history, and if more people took the opportunity to take time out of their schedule to visit some of these historical places, and interact with people who were part of that movement, that would be pretty transformative.”

The ADL Americanism Award is presented to an individual or institution for embracing America’s democratic values and fundamental commitment to equality and fair treatment for all. Past recipients include Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference; Leonard Riggio of Barnes & Noble; David Komansky of Merrill Lynch; Robert Benmosch of MetLife; Richard S. Fuld of Lehman Brothers; Maurice Greenberg of AIG; Patricia M. Anton of the Anton Family Foundation; William C. Anton of Anton Enterprises; tennis star Venus Williams; and Jane and Neil Golub of Price Chopper Supermarkets.