Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights yesterday announced its 2020 Ripple of Hope Award laureates: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dolores Huerta, founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of United Farm Workers of America; Colin Kaepernick, human rights activist, co-founder of Know Your Rights Camp and Super Bowl quarterback; Dan Schulman, president and chief executive officer of PayPal; and Dan Springer, chief executive officer of DocuSign.
The annual Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award celebrates outstanding leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to social change; it recognizes individuals across government, business, advocacy and entertainment who have utilized their platform for the public good.
Announcing the laureates, the group said, “At a time when the courageous pursuit of equality and justice has become political and riddled with adversity, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stands with these modern-day human rights defenders in their inspirational fight for progress.”
“Our country is yearning for leadership, for moral fortitude, for common decency and kindness, and this year’s Ripple of Hope laureates give us great hope for the future,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Their work for equal justice touches every corner of society, sometimes at great personal cost. We are deeply honored to celebrate these changemakers, who have set forth countless ripples of hope at a time when our world is in such need of inspiration.”
Fauci was appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 1984. He oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria, emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika, and the current outbreak of COVID-19. He has advised six presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues and was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.
Huerta is a labor leader and community organizer who has worked to promote civil rights and social justice for over 50 years. In 1962, she and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers union. She received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship in 2002, which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation. This connects groundbreaking community-based organizing to state and national movements to register and educate voters; advocate for education reform; bring about infrastructure improvements in low-income communities; advocate for greater equality for the LGBT community; and develop strong leaders.
Kaepernick is a Super Bowl quarterback and co-founder of Know Your Rights Camp, a free campaign for youth advancing the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities.
President and CEO of PayPal, Schulman is focused on democratizing and transforming financial services and e-commerce to improve the financial health of billions of people and businesses around the world. Under his leadership, PayPal has been named one of the top companies on JUST Capital and Forbes’ list of the JUST 100, featuring “companies doing right by America.”
Springer is the CEO of DocuSign, the company that pioneered e-signature and now helps organizations to automate their entire agreement process. Under his leadership, the company is also committing money, time and other resources to help preserve the world’s forests—through DocuSign for Forests, and other initiatives under the ‘DocuSign IMPACT’ umbrella. Springer recently donated over $2.5 million to the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco, and has called on tech industry leaders to continue reinvesting their equity back into Bay Area projects.
In an interview last week, Kerry Kennedy said that if her father were alive today, “he would be fully behind the Black Lives Matter movement and the demand that we undo the structures of violence.”
Pointing to a speech he gave to the Cleveland City Club on April 5, 1968, the day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, she added, “The reality is that one of the structures of violence is the entire criminal legal system. It includes policing. In many cities in our country, 40 per cent of the city budget is for the police, and that’s money that is therefore unavailable to go to health care and education and mental health care and violence prevention and job training and the arts and sports and childcare and all of those other structures that are available to wealthy, white neighborhoods.”
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, it advocates for key human rights issues, championing changemakers, and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world.
The inspiration for the Ripple of Hope Award comes from a speech Robert F. Kennedy gave in 1966 when he visited South Africa during the worst years of apartheid: “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Past Ripple of Hope laureates include Barack Obama, Tim Cook, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Robert F. Smith, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Belafonte, John Lewis, Hillary Clinton, Bono and Joe Biden.
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has worked with many of the new laureates, teaming up with Kaepernick and his Know Your Rights Camp, to commit $1 million to support local bail funds; working with Huerta to pass the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act in New York State; and dedicating a lesson plan to Fauci and his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic in its “Speak Truth to Power” education program.
The organization’s 2020 gala—typically an in-person ceremony—will be hosted virtually on December 10 in honor of National Human Rights Day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaimed the inalienable rights everyone is inherently entitled to regardless of race, religion, sex, national or social origin, or political opinion.