National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to Honor Mavis Staples

CINCINNATI, OH – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will honor Mavis Staples with the Everyday Freedom Hero Award on Friday, April 20 at 6:45 p.m. at Memorial Hall. Ms. Staples is a singer, actress and civil rights activist. The Everyday Freedom Hero Award presentation will take place during the reception prior to An Evening with Mavis Staples. A limited number of tickets are still available for Ms. Staples’ Longworth-Anderson Series performance at Memorial Hall. To purchase tickets, click here.

The Everyday Freedom Hero Award was created to recognize individuals and organizations who strive to live up to the ideals of the Underground Railroad movement—courage, cooperation and perseverance, while using one’s resources for the wellbeing and betterment of their community. Previous honorees include Kerry and Annie Hilton, founders of Freeset Global, the Cincinnati Bengals Organization, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, Eric Foner, and Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court marriage equality case.

“Music has the power to bring people together,” says National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president, Dion Brown. “Ms. Staples’ illustrious career, from gospel to freedom songs to folk music – and beyond – has united audiences for decades. We are honored to present her with the Everyday Freedom Hero Award and thank Ms. Staples for her dedication to civil rights through activism and song.”

“This is a key moment for Mavis’ concert. With her recently-released album If All I Was Was Black, Mavis is still singing truth with a strong voice and bringing a message of hope and positivity. Memorial Hall’s intimate theater will provide an ideal setting for Mavis to connect with her audience,” said Bill Baumann, Chairman of the Longworth-Anderson Series.

GRAMMY Award-winner (2010, 2015), Kennedy Center Honoree (2016) and legendary singer, Ms. Staples has weaved herself into the very fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop, blues, rock and R&B over the past 60 years. She sang with family for her first paying gig at Holy Trinity Church in 1948, made a name for herself in the 1950s as part of the Staple Singers, went on to contribute to the freedom songs of the Civil Rights Movement, moving over time from the gospel circuit to radio and eventually to stadium shows collecting number one hits along the way and adding almost every musical form to her repertoire.

Ms. Staples’ concert at Memorial Hall will feature songs from her recently-released, highly-praised If All I Was Was Black album, as well as favorites from her expansive catalog, which is packed with praise and recognition from the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Awards.

A distinguished group of arts and civic leaders has been assembled as Honorary Co-Chairs for the Everyday Freedom Hero Award Presentation and An Evening with Mavis Staples concert, as follows: William Baumann, Chairman, Longworth-Anderson Series; Courtis Fuller, News Anchor/Reporter, WLWT5; Barbara Gould, Community Volunteer; Reverend Damon Lynch, Jr., Chairman, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Victoria Morgan, Artistic Director, Cincinnati Ballet; Monica Posey, President, Cincinnati State College; Jim Tarbell, past Cincinnati Vice Mayor and Council Member; and Lincoln Ware, Talk Show Host/Soul 101.5 WDBZ and Star64.

A limited number of tickets are still available.

For more information about the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Everyday Freedom Hero Award, visit