U.S. Congressman John Lewis Gives Keynote Address
Civil Rights Champion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Holocaust Survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein Honored with 2014 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award
HOUSTON, TX (May 29, 2014) – Almost 900 people were on hand Thursday, May 29, 2014, as Holocaust Museum Houston honored two champions of the human spirit who offered a dream of hope and humanity for millions of people following the Holocaust and the American Civil Rights Movement.
Moral Courage Award Dinner
 Martin Luther King III, Luci Baines Johnson, Lexi Klein and Congressman John Lewis

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the award posthumously, with his son Martin Luther King III accepting on his behalf. Human rights activist and survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein also was honored during the Museum’s annual Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award Dinner.

The event, held at the Hilton-Americas Houston, raised almost $1.1 million to support ongoing educational programs of the Museum that promote awareness of the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy against the backdrop of the Holocaust.

Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” U.S. Rep. John Lewis served as keynote speaker for the event.

After highlights from museum chair Mark Mucasey, Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of the former president, presented the night’s first award to Klein’s granddaughter, Lexi Klein. Klein was ill and unable to attend. Her granddaughter said she “emerged from her ordeal with a wonderful sense of humor.”

Guests were served a kosher meal of sautéed sea bass in chardonnay sauce and pecan praline tarts with glazed strawberry. Baines Johnson took the stage once again to introduce King and recalled a noteworthy memory of their two fathers. “Fifty years ago on June 2, 1964, my father, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and your father, Martin Luther King Jr., gave me the best birthday present ever: the Civil Rights Act becoming law,” she said.

Lewis excited the crowd in pastor-style fashion as he talked of the continued need for “one people, one community, one world.”

Chairing this year’s event were Crystal E. Ashby, Pastor Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, J. Kent Friedman, Regina J. Rogers, David L. Solomon and Shawn A. Taylor. Honorary chairs included Stanford Alexander, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, U.S. Rep. Al Green, Rabbi Samuel E. Karff, Rev. William A. Lawson, Ambassador Arthur L. Schechter and the Hon. Fred S. Zeidman. News anchor Shara Fryer served as mistress of ceremonies.

Among VIPs in attendance were Houston Mayor Annise Parker and partner Kathy Hubbard; U.S. Congressman Al Green; Arthur Schechter, former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas; Mike Engelhart, Harris County judge; Joel Clauser, Fort Bend County judge; District Court Judge Robert Schaffer; Bo Alfred, Jefferson County commissioner; Grady Prestage, Fort Bend County commissioner; Meir Shlomo, consul general of Israel; Peter Berkowitz, chair of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission; and Fred Zeidman, former chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Also seen were Museum Chair Mark Mucasey and wife Judy; Museum Executive Director Kelly J. Zúñiga; Lester and Sue Smith; Yvonne and Rufus Cormier; Ed and Lorraine Wulfe; Heidi and Ria Gerger; Trish Morille and Jennifer Huber; David Hassid; and Lauren Daily.

Holocaust Museum Houston created the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in 1994 in cooperation with the Johnson family. In 1938, as a young congressman, Johnson stretched the limits of his authority and risked his personal dreams to provide American sanctuary for threatened European Jews. It is because of these acts of moral courage that the Museum proudly named the award in his honor. The award recognizes either a single righteous act or a lifetime of morally courageous behavior.

During the less than 13 years of King’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African-Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.

Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and '60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, King used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing and civil disobedience, to achieve seemingly impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.

Klein is a Polish-born American writer and human rights activist. Her autobiographical account of the Holocaust, "All but My Life" (1957), was adapted for the 1995 short film "One Survivor Remembers," which received an Academy Award and an Emmy Award and was selected for the National Film Registry. She met her husband, Kurt Klein (1920–2002) on May 7, 1945, when as a lieutenant with the U.S. Army's 5th Infantry Division, he liberated her and others from Nazi captivity. Married in 1946, the Kleins became tireless advocates of Holocaust education and human rights, dedicating most of their lives to promoting tolerance and community service. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Klein also founded Citizenship Counts, a nonprofit organization that champions the value and responsibilities of American citizenship. She has served on the governing board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which features her testimony in a permanent exhibit. On Feb. 15, 2011, Klein was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2013, she published a children's adventure story called "The Windsor Caper," which had remained hidden away since the 1980s, when it was a weekly serial in The Buffalo News.

Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls "The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.

Previous recipients have included French priest Father Patrick Desbois; Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel; activist and actress Mia Farrow; humanitarian John Prendergast of the Enough Project; U.S. Sen. John McCain; television producer Norman Lear; the Houston community of Holocaust survivors; the late Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan; activist Sir Bob Geldof; former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; former U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Jr.; former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole; filmmaker Steven Spielberg; and former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.
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