The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Presents 2020 Power to Inspire Honorees

Due to COVID-19, The Center’s sixth annual event will happen live online at through June

Atlanta, Ga. (May 19, 2020) – The National Center for Civil and Human Rights (The Center) will present its sixth annual Power to Inspire awards, recognizing individuals who promote justice and equality by protecting human rights. Due to COVID-19, The Center will honor recipients through a series of live interviews, video profiles, and educational content beginning Thursday, May 21, and running through June.

The 2020 Recipients:

  • Mari Copeny (a.k.a. Little Miss Flint) is a 12-year-old activist who focused the nation’s attention on the water crisis in Flint, MI and continues to advocate for safe water.
  • Katie Fahey, Executive Director of The People, led a movement to successfully ban partisan gerrymandering in Michigan and now runs an organization that breaks down the barriers to participation in government.
  • Denis Mukwege is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and an advocate for victims of sexual violence. Dr. Mukwege, who is featured in The Center, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Center’s CEO Jill Savitt will interview each honoree, starting with Mari Copeny Thursday, May 21, at 12 pm ET and Katie Fahey Friday, May 29, 12 pm ET. Details and registration information can be found at

“The advocates we honor saw a wrong in the world and assigned themselves to address it – just like the individuals whose stories we tell at The Center,” said Savitt. “As the coronavirus exposes how divided and grossly unequal our society has become, The Center hopes our honorees can inspire all of us to recommit to tapping our own power to fix what’s broken.”

Previous recipients of the Power to Inspire award include, former Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Bernice A. King, filmmaker and literary scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., migrant women farmworker rights advocate Alina Diaz, inter-faith activist Sherry Frank and Argentine human rights activist Estela Barnes de Carlotta.

2020 Power to Inspire Recipients

mari copeny

For the last six years, Mari Copeny (aka Little Miss Flint) has been an advocate and champion for the city of Flint, Michigan, raising over $500,000 to bring clean water to thousands of children and families. Her campaign to protect the human rights of the residents of Flint is an example of the power that individuals have to inspire positive change in the world. The Center recognizes Mari as a 2020 Power to Inspire Award recipient for her efforts to provide clean water for the community of Flint and beyond.

On Thursday, May 21st, Jill Savitt will interview Mari about her new campaign to bring state of the art water filters to communities impacted by poor water quality.



katie faheyKatie Fahey served as founder and Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians, a grassroots, nonpartisan campaign that ran a successful effort to end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan by amending the State Constitution in 2018. Responding to extreme divisiveness in politics following the 2016 election, Katie posted on Facebook, asking if anyone would join her in taking on partisan gerrymandering. Almost by accident, she started a political movement. The campaign mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers to collect 425,000 petition signatures from the state’s 83 counties — without spending a dime. Katie now runs The People, an organization that breaks down the barriers to participation in government to make the government more responsive to the popular opinion of the American electorate. The Center recognizes Katie as a 2020 Power to Inspire Award recipient for her work to unite Americans and uphold democratic ideals.

On Friday, May 29th, Jill will interview Katie about her work to unite all citizens to advocate for non-partisan political reform.

denis mukwegeDr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Dr. Mukwege decided to specialize in gynecology and obstetrics after observing that female patients at Lemera Hospital suffered from insufficient medical care, which caused complications during their deliveries.

He founded Panzi Hospital in 1999 as a clinic and expected to be working on issues of maternal health. Since 1999, however, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence. When Dr. Mukwege saw that the same women were returning for care after multiple assaults, he launched an effort to hold the rapists accountable. His call for justice put him at great risk.  He survived an assassination attempt in 2012, but his bodyguard was killed. Dr. Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.

The Center recognizes Dr. Mukwege as a 2020 Power to Inspire Award recipient for his fearless efforts to heal and protect women and bring individuals responsible for acts of sexual violence to justice.


About the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a vibrant museum and cultural institution in Atlanta. Our immersive and powerful exhibitions connect US civil rights history to the global struggle for human rights around the world today. We are one of the only institutions in the world where the papers and artifacts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are on permanent display. Our engaging events and conversations, education, and advocacy training bring together leading thinkers on advancing rights.  For more information, visit Join the conversation on civil and human rights on @ctr4chr (Twitter) and @ctr4chr (Facebook)

Media Contacts:

Shani Drake
Director of Public Engagement & Marketing
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
[email protected]

James Richards
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
[email protected]

Sponsorship opportunities for the Power to Inspire Awards are available. For sponsorship inquiries or general questions please contact Candice Franklin, Head of Development, at [email protected].