Award winners committed to voting rights

illustration encouraging people to vote with arrows animating towards a ballot box

Two Freedom Summer of ’64 Award Winners Award winners committed
to voting rights

Miami University’s commitment to celebrating inclusive excellence continues to expand, signified by this year’s winners of the Freedom Summer of ’64 Award. Honoring two champions for protecting and expanding voting rights, Miami presented the awards in 2019-2020 to Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins and Joe Madison.

portrait of carolyn jefferson-jenkins   portrait of joe madison

Jefferson-Jenkins is a Western College alumna and former president of the League of Women Voters. Madison hosts a daily radio show on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel 126, calling attention to social injustice around the world.

Created in 2017, the Freedom Summer of ’64 Award honors leaders who strive to advance civil rights and social justice in America. The award is named for the 1964 training of hundreds of civil rights workers at Western College for Women, now part of Miami University, just before they traveled to register Black voters in the segregated South. It highlights Miami University’s lasting commitment to celebrating diverse excellence—honoring the past and forging a better future.

While live presentation of the awards this year was disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, President Gregory P. Crawford said both winners prioritized grassroots organization and increasing the number of informed Black voters.

“This year’s winners cleared the way to the same voting path that was the core of the Freedom Summer movement – participation and change,” he said.

Ron Scott holding the Freedom Summer of ’64 Award
Ronald Scott, emeritus vice president for institutional diversity, holding the Freedom Summer of ’64 award.

Jefferson-Jenkins led
League of Women Voters

Jefferson-Jenkins graduated from Western College for Women in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in social science and education. From 1998 to 2002, she served as both the 15th national president of the League of Women Voters of the United States – the first Black to hold the role – and chair of the League of Women Voters Education Fund.

Madison is pioneering broadcaster

Before becoming a broadcaster in 1980, Madison was the youngest executive director of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. He eventually was appointed national political director and a member of the organization’s board of directors. In 2015, he made history by broadcasting live from Cuba, the first American radio host to do so in more than 50 years. Madison earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Washington University (St. Louis) in 1971, the first in his family to earn a college degree.