By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma will honor several members of the community during their Annual Meeting and Reception, which will be held in the Forum Room of the Midwest City Library, 8143 E Reno Avenue, on Saturday April 20 at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The recipients of the prestigious 2019 Angie Debo Award are the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and Allie Shinn, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma. This award is given in recognition and celebration of the courage and tenacity displayed by these groups and individuals in the pursuit of civil liberties.
“The ACLU of Oklahoma is honored to present the 2019 Angie Debo Civil Libertarian Award to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in recognition of their pursuit to protect women, especially indigenous women,” said Sarah Adams-Cornell, ACLU of Oklahoma Board Vice-President.
“Much like the award namesake, NIWRC’s resolute advocacy to make known and change disparities impacting indigenous people, including the Violence Against Women Act is gold standard. The empowerment provided to our indigenous women through NIWRC resources and trainings can be felt throughout Indian Country.”
Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, stated, “Allie Shinn left her role as Deputy Director after 8 years with the ACLU of Oklahoma to take the lead at Freedom Oklahoma and only continues to elevate her work to as a fearless advocate for LGBTQ+ Oklahomans whose civil rights and civil liberties are constantly threatened at every level of government.
“From her work with meaningful criminal justice reform on the Campaign for Yes on State Question 780 and 781 to her legislative advocacy and community engagement to stop legislation that threatened the lives and liberties of people across Oklahoma, I cannot think of an individual whose unyielding resolve to fight for change has more rightfully earned them this honor,” Kiesel added.
The Angie Debo Award is named in honor of the writer, historian, and civil rights advocate Angie Elbertha Debo (January 30, 1890 – February 21, 1988), who relentlessly pursued justice in cooperation with the ACLU-OK during the late 1960s and 1970s.
This is the highest award presented by the ACLU of Oklahoma. It has been presented annually since 1971 for outstanding achievement in the fight for civil rights and civil liberties.
ACLU of Oklahoma will make a special presentation to honor the work of Nancy McDonald who is being recognized with a Bob Lemon Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Through a life of advocacy and mentoring, Nancy McDonald personifies the spirit of the Bob Lemon Lifetime Achievement Award. She has advocated tirelessly on behalf of the LGBT community, fought for diversity and equitable funding under Title IX, and helped secure the first Ryan White Grant, which led to the Ryan White Clinic at Oklahoma State University,” said Mike Redman, ACLU of Oklahoma Board President.
“Her accomplishments transcend the decades and have benefitted many Oklahomans of various backgrounds,” Redman said.
The Bob Lemon Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of Oklahoma lifelong activist and philanthropist, Robert (Bob) D. Lemon. Lemon served as a leader and role model to the community on many issues spanning from LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom, racial justice, faith and academia, leaving Oklahoma a more equitable and compassionate state.
The Bob Lemon Award honors the individual who, like Bob, has made Oklahoma a better place to live through their dedication to freedom and justice, organizers said.
During the event, ACLU members will vote to elect new board members, and attendees will hear an address from the ACLU of Oklahoma’s Campaign for Smart Justice. Dues paying members of the ACLU of Oklahoma are eligible to vote to fill board vacancies.
“We’re grateful for each ACLU member, and we’d love to share with you all you have helped the ACLU accomplish in the past year,” Redman added.