Bernard LafayetteBernard LaFayette Jr., distinguished senior scholar-in-residence at Candler, is the recipient of the National Civil Rights Museum’s 2012 National Freedom Award. The award will be presented October 16 in Memphis.

“As the country moves further from the turbulent days of the 1960s, the memory of those who fought so bravely for freedom and justice is dulled. This year’s National Freedom Award recipient will serve as a stark reminder of the tremendous struggle and sacrifice of those who were willing to stand up and speak out,” read the museum’s announcement of the award.

The Rev. Dr. LaFayette is an ordained minister, a longtime civil rights activist, and an authority on nonviolent social change. In 1960, he helped to lead the Nashville Student Sit-in Movement. Later that year, he co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He took on leadership roles in the 1961 Freedom Rides, the 1962-1965 Alabama Voter Registration Project, and the 1965 Selma Movement. He was appointed by Martin Luther King Jr. to be national program administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and national coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.

The Freedom Award is conveyed each fall by the National Civil Rights Museum. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to civil rights and who have laid the foundation for present and future leaders in human rights activism. Other 2012 honorees include Muhammad Yunus (International Freedom Award); Marlo Thomas (Humanitarian Award); and “The Three Doctors” (Legacy Award).  

For more information about the National Civil Rights Museum and the 2012 Freedom Award, visit