HOUSTON, TX (February 29, 2008) – The Houston community of Holocaust survivors will be honored with the 2008 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award this May in recognition of their courage in rebuilding their lives, their compassion shown for other persecuted groups and their commitment to see that others are never again subjected to the torments they endured, Holocaust Museum Houston announced Friday.
Legendary television writer, director and producer Norman Lear will receive the Museum’s Visionary Award at the 2008 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award Dinner set for Monday, May 12, 2008. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar St., under the theme "Courage, Compassion, Commitment," reflecting the survivors’ own extraordinary lives and the Museum’s ongoing mission of teaching how the courage and actions of even a single individual can effect tremendous change for the good of people around the world.
Previous recipients have included the late Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan; activist Sir Bob Geldof; former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Jr.; former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole; filmmaker Steven Spielberg; and former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others.
The annual event – one of the city’s largest and most widely recognized philanthropic dinners – supports educational programs of the Museum that promote awareness of the dangers of prejudice, hatred and apathy against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Proceeds also enable the Museum to offer free admission to the public almost 365 days a year. More than 1,100 people attended last year’s dinner.
"Our theme this year reflects our desire to honor individuals who have stood up against injustice, who have had the courage to change their lives after experiencing hatred and prejudice first-hand, who have shown us compassion in dedicating their lives to making our world a more peaceful place and who have proven the value and need for commitment to ensure that such atrocities as the Holocaust are never allowed to occur again," said Museum Chairman Walter Hecht.
Hecht said the honorees for this year’s dinner reflect that sense of moral responsibility for the collective actions of society and of fostering understanding between different cultures and populations of the world.
More than 75 area Holocaust survivors are expected to be present to accept the award, which will be presented by actress Jane Seymour, whose own mother, Mieke Frankenberg, spent more than three years in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia. She died at age 92.
Seymour has showcased her talents on the Broadway stage, in motion pictures and on television, blazing the trail for family-friendly programming with her Golden Globe-winning role as "Dr. Michaela Quinn" on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." But in addition to her busy life of acting, Seymour is a dedicated activist for a number of charities seeking to improve children’s lives around the world. She serves as the honorary chairperson for City Hearts, an organization that enriches the lives of inner-city children and disadvantaged youths by teaching and involving them in arts programs including painting, dancing, photography and acting.
Seymour also is an international ambassador for Childhelp, a national organization dedicated to the research, treatment and prevention of child abuse. In addition to that organization’s "Woman of the World" Award, she is also the recipient of many other honors for her social and charitable achievements. She is, as well, a member of the American Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet and spearheads its campaign to eradicate measles as the number one killer of children in Africa.
Lear is best known as the television producer who forced many of America’s societal ills to the forefront of public consciousness with his groundbreaking series "All in the Family" of the 1970s. After first airing on Jan. 12, 1971, Lear’s hit series ran for nine seasons, putting issues such as social inequality, race relations, sexual orientation, prejudice and discrimination front and center before nationwide television audiences through the eyes of characters like Archie and Edith Bunker. The series earned four Emmy Awards for best comedy series as well as the coveted Peabody Award in 1977. "All in the Family" was followed by a succession of other hit television shows.
Concerned about the growing influence of radical religious evangelists, Lear left television in 1980 and formed People for the American Way, a non-profit organization designed to speak out for guarantees incorporated in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and to monitor constitutional freedoms.
In addition to People for the American Way, Lear has founded other non-profit organizations, including the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication; the Business Enterprise Trust (1989-2000) to spotlight exemplary social innovations in American business; and with his wife, Lyn, the Environmental Media Association to mobilize the entertainment industry to become more environmentally responsible. In 1999,
President Clinton bestowed him with the National Medal of Arts, noting that "Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it."
Holocaust Museum Houston created the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in 1994 in cooperation with the Johnson family.
In 1938, as a young congressman, Johnson stretched the limits of his authority and risked his personal dreams to provide American sanctuary for threatened European Jews. It is because of these acts of moral courage that the Museum proudly named the award in his honor. The award recognizes either a single righteous act or a lifetime of morally courageous behavior.
Chairing this year’s dinner are four of the city’s most respected charity fund-raisers. Overseeing the effort are long-time Museum members Donald and Martha Freedman and Walter and Chris Kase. Finance chairs are Houston real estate developer E. D. Wulfe and Jeffrey Early of Northern Trust Bank.
Honorary chairs include former President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush; former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton; former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III; Houston Mayor Bill White and Mrs. Andrea White; Fred Zeidman, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and Mrs. Kay Zeidman; U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison; U.S. Sen. John Cornyn; and Ambassador Arthur Schechter.
Tables of 10 are available beginning at $6,000. To RSVP or to reserve a table, call 713-942-8000, ext. 129, or e-mail HMHDinner@hmh.org.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.
For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.