Danny Glover and Martha Swan

Actor and activist Danny Glover, recipient of a 2016 Spirit of John Brown Freedom Award, with JBL Executive Director Martha Swan.

The Spirit of John Brown Freedom Award honors women and men whose work invokes the passion and conviction of the 19th-century abolitionist and celebrates leaders and innovators in civil and human rights whose courage, creativity, and commitment are models for others to follow.  Established in 2016, the award is given annually at John Brown Day, held on the second Saturday of May each year.

Past recipients include:

2019 

  • Dr. Martha Ransby, author, historian and political activist at the University of Chicago
  • Lewis Papenfuse, former executive director of the Worker Justice Center of New York
  • Janet McFetridge, refugee activist

2018

  • Soffiyah Elijah, executive director, Alliance of Families for Justice
  • Martín Espada, poet
  • Jen Kretser, director of climate initiatives, The Wild Center

2017

  • Aaron Mair, president, The Sierra Club
  • Migrant Justice, immigrant-rights organization
  • Don & Vivian Papson, founders, North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association

2016

  • Danny Glover, actor and activist
  • Alice Green, executive director, Center for Law and Justice
  • Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess, activist and youth leader