Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929–1968) led the American civil rights movement that broke the shackles of segregation. By applying what is now known as the Kingian method of nonviolence, he stirred the conscience of the nation, helped enact civil rights laws, and opened pathways of hope to Americans of all races and groups.

NEA presents the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Award to a nominee who emulates Dr. King in leadership and philosophy. To be eligible for this award, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Initiate or engage in activities that positively impact the educational, social, economic, or political life of the community.
  • Contribute to the achievement of self-determination by individuals or groups.
  • Display creativity, determination, and perseverance in achieving human and civil rights goals.
  • Establish an ongoing program or institution for the improvement of human relations and civil rights.
  • Exemplify the nonviolent philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and other nonviolent activists in the quest for improved human relations and civil rights.

Awarded in odd- and even-numbered years.

2021 HCR Awards Honorees