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2013 Citizen Awards 

Davids in a world of Goliaths: Honoring those who fight for social justice

INDY Week columnist Bob Geary used to send emails tagged with the signature line "Progress is possible." Depending on which way the political winds were blowing at the time, he and I used to joke about it: Possible, but not likely. Impossible. What's progress?

The INDY's annual Citizen Awards remind our readers and us that progress, while incremental, happens every day; it just goes woefully unnoticed.

So every year, the INDY honors groups and individuals who have tirelessly fought for social justice and worked to improve their communities. They are unsung heroes—Davids in a world of Goliaths.

The youngest winners in the history of the Citizen Awards are members of the Youth Empowered Solutions (Yes) Team, dedicated high school students who are lobbying state officials to establish wellness clinics in Wake County schools to serve kids who are uninsured or don't otherwise have access to health care.

All of Us NC battled the religious right over Amendment 1, which embedded a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in our state constitution. Although a majority of North Carolina voters decided to codify discrimination, many of them in the name of the Lord, All of Us NC took a brave and public stand against bigotry. Some minds were changed; just not enough of them. We're confident that some day, either a more enlightened North Carolina will repeal that amendment or the U.S. Supreme Court will rule the gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

People's Durham tackles affordable housing, social justice and educational issues facing underserved minority communities. For too long, they have been excluded from Durham's cultural and culinary renaissance. Yet these communities, with their deep roots and personal histories in the city, contribute as much to Durham's essence as the urban hipsters and the entrepreneurial class.

Marty Rosenbluth has long advocated for fair treatment of undocumented immigrants Trianglewide. Most recently, he was among those who shed light on the racial profiling by the Alamance County Sheriff's Office; it has since been sued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Special mention goes to Dix 306, Friends of Dorothea Dix Park and Dix Visionaries. Without their vigilance, the City of Raleigh and all who visit it would have lost a piece of prime real estate to condos and parking decks. Instead, like world-class cities, Raleigh will have an expansive, beautiful park not just for the present but also for future generations to enjoy.

Each of these winners should inspire the rest of us that there is much work to be done in our state, in our cities and in our neighborhoods. The benefits are rarely immediate, but the chipping away is its own reward, its own lesson.

Yes, Bob, I would agree with you. Progress is possible.

  • Progress is possible.

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