In early August, the State Department hosted the inaugural Secretary’s Global Anti-Racism Champions Awards. The award recognizes individuals around the world for their efforts advancing racial equity and combating racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, and xenophobia.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken commended the efforts of six civil leaders, including Indigenous lawyer Kari Guajajara from Brazil for her efforts promoting Indigenous Peoples’ rights, combating gender-based violence and advocating for the conservation of the Brazilian Rainforest.
Oswaldo Bilbao Lobatón founded an organization to promote the rights and the visibility of Afro-Peruvians. Oswaldo’s work has brought together Black communities in Peru, and his efforts mentoring young Afro-Peruvian leaders ensure his work will continue into the next generation.
Victorina Luca advocates for Moldova’s Roma people, who have faced generations of abuse, stigma and harassment. Victorina also organized the delivery of food and other supplies to more than 3,000 Ukrainian Roma refugees, after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. She also founded a Roma-language news station to offer education, entertainment, and empowerment for Roma across Moldova and throughout the diaspora.
Saadia Mosbah’s own experiences being discriminated as a black person living in Tunisia inspired her to found Mnemty – meaning “My Dream” – to advance the rights of black Tunisians, which helped Tunisia to become the first Arab country to criminalize racial discrimination.
Sarswati Nepali has spent more than 20 years standing up for the rights of Dalits, or the so called “untouchable” caste, in Nepal. She has successfully campaigned to allow Dalits to worship at popular Hindu temples and to abolish bonded labor in western Nepal, which has trapped Dalit families for generations.
Finally, Rani Yan Yan is a tribal leader and women’s rights activist in Bangladesh, where communities like hers face mass displacement, land grabs, and violence from the government. She has advocated for climate resiliency and gender equality, the political participation of indigenous women, and mentored youth activists on diversity and social inclusion despite facing immense discrimination and even violence herself.
“The world is lucky to have you as such incredibly committed citizens, dedicating your lives to advancing the rights and the lives of others,” Secretary Blinken told the recipients. “And what I want to tell you today is that as you continue the work you’re doing, this transformative work, the United States will stand very proudly by your side.”