Local man awarded in lifelong fight for civil rights

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The first week of October is Ohio Nonviolence Week. Monday evening, two men were awarded for their nonviolent fight for social justice.

“I’m just one of many, many people who have been involved in the struggle for civil rights, so I’m no better than they are but I’m pleased that they wanted to do this,” said award recipient Rev. James Ray.

The 91-year-old reverend has dedicated most of his life in the fight for social justice.

He was this year’s local recipient for the Simeon Booker Award for Courage, an award in honor of the Youngstown man who was the first Black reporter for the Washington Post and was on the front lines of the civil rights movement.

The award started five years ago. Each year there is one local and one national recipient and is given to those who exhibit some of Booker’s characteristics.

“The tenacity to follow through on what they believe in, the willingness to do it nonviolently, the willingness to put their life on the line, the willingness to put with they think is right above self,” said Ohio Nonviolence Week chair Penny Wells.

Wells helps the award and nonviolence week inspire others to take charge and incite change.

“We all need to step out, we all need to be that brave person who’s willing to think about others more so than ourselves, we’re all willing to make a difference and we’re all willing to do it nonviolently and we all have the power to do that,” Wells said.

The national Simeon Booker award was given posthumously to congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement.

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