2017 Honoree: Ingrid Frank

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Ingrid Frank arrived in the United States at age 12, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who escaped via the Childrens’ Transport program which took her to Holland and then England before arriving in New York City. She wakened quickly to America’s racial injustice, which reminded her of Germany’s treatment of Jews. Marching on a “Free the Scottsboro Boys” picket line at 14 was the start of a lifetime of civil rights activism, of organizing and marching and protesting for fair and integrated housing, for Dr. King’s Poor People's Campaign, and much more. She met George Richardson, her husband, at a 1963 demonstration to integrate the construction industry—he was the only black member of the New Jersey Legislature. They have worked on human rights struggles and protested together ever since Her book Get Up, You’re Not Dead! is the story of Richardson’s youth in Newark and his struggle against heroin addiction. Their collaborations include a 1968 tribute to comedian Dick Gregory, who was being barred from stages because of his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, and the first Black Rodeo ever seen in the east (at a time when no one here believed there were black cowboys). Ever timely, in 2003, when President Bush vilified France for refusing to join his war in Iraq, they launched “Vive la Harlem,” to celebrate the long friendship between Harlem and France. In 2007 they spearheaded the “Hip Hop Heals” campaign encouraging rappers to “spit” more positive messages in their music—including support for President Barack Obama.


Video by Kuji Banks, interviewed by Rachel Bernstein

Awards ceremony

Video by Kuji Banks