John Legends sings "Glory" during 2019 Freedom Award Gala. (Photo: TSD Archives)

Pencil in the 29th Freedom Award to a growing list of 2020 cancellations forced by public safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Officials with The National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) announced Friday the cancellation of this year’s planned version of the museum’s flagship fundraising event, with a focus forward now on next year’s 30th anniversary of the Freedom Award.

The announcement comes as the NCRM moves to account for a significant economic impact associated with loss of revenue from the museum’s closure and cancellation of its public events as result of the pandemic.

The NCRM’s media release put it this way: “Revenue from the Freedom Award supports the museum’s operations and programming. The deficit resulting from its cancellation has caused serious financial strain and the need for general operations support.”

The Freedom Award honors national and international history makers for their contributions to civil and human rights. Thirty-seven sponsors are continuing their financial support of the Freedom Award for 2020. Recognized now by NCRM as Freedom Keepers, the collective contribution was put at $725,500.

NCRM President Terri Lee Freeman (right) at the ceremony for George Floyd on the plaza in front of City Hall. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/TSD Archives)

“With the help of our board development committee, we made the decision to simply ask sponsors if they would still give despite this year’s Freedom Award being cancelled,” said NCRM President Terri Lee Freeman.

“The overwhelming response was ‘yes!’  It’s fabulous to know that our sponsors believe in our mission and truly understood the financial implications of our not hosting a Freedom Award.”

Here are the spotlighted Freedom Keepers: African Pride, AMPRO Industries Incorporated, Dr. Esmond & Pamela Arrindell, AutoZone, Bank of America, Baptist Memorial Health Care, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC, The Carter Malone Group, Commercial Bank and Trust Company, Cummins, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Duncan Williams Asset Management, Ernst & Young, FedEx Corporation, First Horizon Foundation, Georgia-Pacific Memphis Cellulose, Kathy & J.W. Gibson, Ann & Mason Hawkins, Highland Capital Management, LLC, Hyde Family Foundation, Independent Bank, International Paper, Kroger Delta Division Marketing, R.S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home, Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, Nike, ProTech Services Group, Inc., Cathy Ross, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., Smith and Nephew, Inc., Southeastern Asset Management Inc., Steelecase, J. Strickland & Co., Tower Ventures Management LLC, Valero Energy Foundation, and U.S. Chamber – Institute for Legal Reform.

To experience last year’s 28th Freedom Award, visit

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum reopens July 1

Slave Haven, a museum inside the Burkle Estate, in Uptown, Memphis.

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, located at 826 No. Second St., will reopen, Thursday, July 1, after being closed for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The museum will adhere to social-distancing guidances provided by health officials. All visitors are required to wear facial masks. Capacity will be limited to 25 visitors per hour. High traffic areas will be cleaned throughout the day, and sanitizer will be available.

The museum will operate on its regular summer hours Monday-

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

S.A.V.E. plaintiffs ask U.S. Supreme Court for voting help in Shelby County

The S.A.V.E. (Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections) nonprofit and a consortium of plaintiffs is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their federal lawsuit seeking election security reforms in Shelby County.

The plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court’s justices to hear the case, decide if they have legal standing to sue and send the matter back to the federal district court for a preliminary injunction hearing to “protect the voters in the fall elections.{

Along with S.A.V.E., other plaintiffs are State Rep. Joe Towns Jr.; Mike Kernell, former state representative and Shelby County Schools board member; Britney Thornton, a recent city council candidate and voter Ann Scott. The civil rights lawsuit was filed by Carol Chumney Law PLLC in the Western District of Tennessee. Named as defendants are the Shelby County Election, the Tennessee Election Commission and officials.

At issue: The plaintiffs contend they are harmed as voters and candidates for public office because the local voting system was found by a state research agency to have “a critical security breach with unauthorized editing software.”

Noting that their own expert points to evidence of malware, the plaintiffs assert that there has been repeated Internet exposure of the system on election night with the transfer of votes from satellite zones and that no forensic audit has been done.

Last September, Judge Tommy Parker dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing. The Sixth Circuit agreed, with a rehearing request denied in March 2020.

The plaintiffs are pushing for, among other things, the implementation of hand-marked paper ballots, with risk-limiting audits.

For more information, read SAVE’s Voting on Thin Ice Report (

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