Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Peter Edelman Honored With Civil Rights Award from Jewish Community At Martin Luther King Tribute

WASHINGTON, January 31, 1996 -- A U.S. congressman and an official of the Department of Health and Human Services received the Religious Action Center Civil Rights Leadership Award at a ceremony Monday at the Israeli Embassy.

Rep. Kweisi Mfume, incoming President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Peter Edelman, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, were recognized for their longtime efforts in pursuit of social justice and racial equality in American society at the twelfth annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

More than three hundred people attended the program sponsored by the Israeli government and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Washington office of the national Reform Jewish Movement.

Mfume, a five-term Democrat from Maryland's 7th Congressional District, was recognized for his work as a member of the Baltimore City Council and the U.S. House of Representatives in securing civil rights for all Americans and advancing legislation geared toward the expansion of vocational and educational opportunities for minorities. In accepting the award, Mfume challenged his audience to now "follow the shining dream of a shining and powerful god" in "standing up and speaking out for all that is wrong" in our society. In February 1996, Mfume will assume the leadership reigns of the NAACP, America's oldest and largest civil rights organization.

Peter Edelman was honored for voicing so effectively the nation's conscience and for working at the local, state, and national levels to safeguard children and other vulnerable segments of America's people. Professor Roger Wilkins, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University, presented Edelman with the award, praising him for "acts of promiscuous humanity" that affirm the potential for goodness lying with each American.

Minister Shlomo Gur, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Israel, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Mfume each addressed the recent Israeli crisis over Ethiopian Jewry. Many in attendance assured the support and guidance of America's civil rights community as the Jewish state seeks to implement full and equal opportunity for the 60,000 Black Jews from Ethiopia.

The Metropolitan D.C. Police Choir performed musical interludes during the ceremony -- including a rendition of "We Shall Overcome" -- which invited the audience of Black and Jewish leaders to lift their voices together in songs of peace and hope.

The program also featured memorial tributes to the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Honorable Barbara Jordan.

Editors note:Event photographs are available for publication.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis .

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