Justice. Every day. Everyone. That’s been the Shriver Center’s legacy for 50 years now, and we were thrilled to have more than 800 family members, friends, allies, supporters, clients gathered in Chicago last month to celebrate it at our 50th anniversary gala.
The evening was an opportunity to reflect on our journey for justice but also galvanize for the continued work ahead.
Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who was honored with this year’s Sargent Shriver Equal Justice Award, spoke on the need to continue the long, historic fight for justice—especially in times that seem most disheartening.
“It is no understatement that this is a most perilous time for the cause of justice, fairness, and inclusion,” Gupta said. “But the work of heroic groups like the Shriver Center—and indeed, the history of our nation itself—reminds us that we can and must continue pushing forward.”
Progressive leader and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who received our inaugural State Champion Award, reminded us that, even as we face a hostile Congress and Presidential Administration, we must keep alive the notion that the federal government has a role to play in fighting poverty and advancing justice.
“In order to make sustainable, systemic change and end poverty, we need good government, government that is committed to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” she explained, citing Jobs Corps, which was launched by Sargent Shriver, as an example.
Four members of our client and partner community—DeLinda Herod, Graciela Guzmán, Saydeth Valentin, and Akeeshea Daniels—shared stories about the importance of standing up to fight for justice.
We were also thankful for the surprise appearance from MSNBC Correspondent Joy Reid and President Barack Obama (via video). We were grateful to acknowledge the outstanding pro bono contributions of Goldberg Kohn and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym LLP with Corporate Partner Awards. And, with his piercing humor and social commentary, comedian, writer, and actor Hasan Minhaj made us laugh—and think.
Mark Shriver, one of Sargent Shriver’s five children, eloquently explained how his father’s legacy continues to shine through in our work.
“The Shriver Center embodies [this] about my father: his sense of optimism and his demand that people rise to meet a crisis,” he said.
Looking ahead to the next 50 years, it will be more vital than ever to leverage Sarge’s sense of optimism. Important anti-poverty programs and civil rights protections continue to face threats at the federal level. We must look at the real and imminent impact these policy changes have on low-income people and communities in the states and localities, because the choices that states make will have monumental consequences on the ability of their residents to grow and learn, work, care for loved ones, and live in dignity.
The stakes of this work have perhaps never been higher.
That’s why we’re excited to bring leading advocates, journalists, community organizers, and funders together on December 1 in Chicago, Illinois to discuss these issues. The Shriver Summit: The Future of Justice will be a day-long gathering to examine the future of justice for workers, families, and communities across the country.
In tumultuous and perilous times like these, it is crucial for advocates and communities to come together, share knowledge, expertise, and resources, and plan for the fights ahead.