The Petra Foundation welcomed four new fellows to its growing network of human rights heroes at its 23rd annual celebration of leaders who are making distinctive contributions to human rights and social justice.
In a news release from the Petra Foundation, the 2011 Petra Fellows were recognized for their innovative work on behalf of pregnant and parenting teens; low-wage restaurant workers; prison inmates and their families bearing the brunt of “tough on crime” political posturing; and the indigenous people of Guam, whose 30-mile-long island is about to be swamped by a $15-billion U.S. military build-up.
“Without personal privilege, and in the face of enormous obstacles, these leaders are not only improving the lives of those in their communities but they are working to bring about the changes that will add up to shared prosperity and opportunity in America,” said Petra director Meg Fidler. “We are honored to have them join us and thrilled by the warm welcome they have received in Cambridge, where the foundation first launched 23 years ago.”
Keynoter Michael Patrick MacDonald, peace activist and author of All Souls, his award-winning memoir of growing up in South Boston, also paid tribute to the honorees: “Petra Fellows stand as a challenge to us to pay attention to the violence of poverty and injustice and to transform that pain into healing and hope. Their achievements do not allow us to simply applaud, but they call on each of us to act, as citizens of the world, to effect change wherever we are.”
From Richmond, Virginia the Petra Fellows selected Lillie Branch-Kennedy, co-founder of the Community Restoration Campaign and founding director of Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged. The Community Restoration Campaign has taken on the full range of hardships encountered by prisoners and their families, from supporting children of incarcerated parents to lobbying for restoration of parole and voting rights and against the practice of filling Virginia’s “supermax” cells – and state coffers – by importing prisoners from as far away as Hawaii.
To see videos of all of the winners, you may visit www.youtube.com/thepetrafoundation.