Annual Symposium Awards
Each year, local leaders, activists, and organizations are honored with a Des Moines Civil & Human Rights award. Nominations are closed for the year. The 2019 Award Recipients will be announced during the Virtual Symposium in 2021.
The awards include:
Donna Russell Red Wing Human Rights Award
The Donna Russell Red Wing Human Rights Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a dedication to the fight against discrimination and injustice by utilizing, developing, and/or leveraging programs or activities to advocate, activate, and/or agitate the Des Moines community.
- is fearless, optimistic, and enthusiastic in leading equal rights efforts
- stands with courage to protect the ambitions and rights of others through civil discourse and partnerships
- serves the community as an advocate, activist, and/or agitator to raise awareness and/or advance the community's mission/issue
- works within systems to affect change in policies or practices
This award is dedicated to Donna Russell Red Wing, who served on the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission from 2016-2018. Donna's commitment to LGBT+ and Human Rights advocacy earned her the Walter Cronkite Award for Faith & Freedom and recognition from The Advocate as their 1992 Woman of the Year. Despite being dubbed "the most dangerous woman in America" by a conservative group, Donna found success in her activism by utilizing civility to interact with persons with different opinions around profound issues and challenging deeply held beliefs. In 2018, the Commission voted to honor her lifelong work as an advocate, activist, and agitator and memorialize her as an exemplary in the fight against discrimination and injustice.
Fort Des Moines Business and Organization Human Rights Award
The Fort Des Moines Business and Organization Human Rights Award recognizes a business or organization whose business practices or mission provide a platform for cultural diversity and equal rights for all.
This business or non-profit organization:
- is dedicated to advancing justice, peace, and freedom for workers and community members
- effectively implemented an equal opportunity/affirmative action program
- exemplifies a diversified workforce with opportunities for upward mobility
- fights against discrimination, prejudice, and the effects of past discrimination
- fosters intergroup relationships among persons of different races, national origins, religions, gender expression, sexual orientations, abilities, etc.
- devotes resources to the improvement of the Des Moines community
This award is dedicated to Fort Des Moines, the site of the first Black officer candidates for the United States Army in 1917 and included alumni and faculty from prestigious universities like Howard, Tuskegee, Harvard, and Yale. Following their service in World War I, these officers became noted journalists, civil rights activists, and lawyers.
In 2018, the Commission voted to honor this segment of Iowa history for the officers who demonstrated their ability to perform civic duties despite the racial violence they faced, and the impact their service had in opening the door towards desegregation and integration in the military.
Porter S. Dimery Sr., Youth Human Rights Award
The Porter S. Dimery Sr. Youth Human Rights Award recognizes a young, inspirational leader who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to protecting civil and human rights in the Des Moines area.
- educates, advocates, and/or raises awareness of community social justice issues
- creates opportunities and access to services and resources for others
- leads peaceful efforts to engage in civil discourse for community-oriented solutions
- advocates for the access, development, and/or improvement of the legal and justice system, community development, education, healthcare, etc.
- engages in efforts to ensure the protection of equality and opportunity for all
Age Restriction: Candidates must be 24 years or younger by March 1 to be eligible for this award.
This award is dedicated to Porter S. Dimery Sr., who served on the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission from 1991-1998. Known as the "Gentle Giant", this lifelong activist was committed to the future of the community, especially for the children and youth, and pushed for changes that would improve the quality of life for all residents of Des Moines. In 2005, the Commission voted to honor his contributions for his ability to reach across the table and peacefully and civilly break down barriers for all.