MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Three people were honored by the National Civil Rights Museum on Wednesday night for their contributions to civil and human rights.
Attendees said they’re excited to honor the work of this year’s honorees Reverend Jesse Jackson, former Vice President Joe Biden, and philanthropist Pitt Hyde.
In a year that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, this year’s Freedom Awards ceremony was focused around the year 1968.
It’s a year that had impactful events both nationally and across the world, and all recipients have connections to the year.
Revered Jesse Jackson was recognized as one of the foremost civil rights, religious and political leaders since 1968.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was recognized for his work in criminal justice reform and international affairs, with a key role in U.S. foreign policy and graduated in 1968
Memphian and philanthropist Pitt Hyde started his career in 1968. On Wednesday, he was honored for his dedication to growing Memphis.
“It’s just amazing for me to join the ranks of so many heroes of mine like Nelson Mandela and the Dali Lama and you name it, I never dreamed I would be a recipient so it’s a thrill being here,” Hyde said.
There was also a beautiful tribute to Aretha Franklin. Her son and grandchildren were at the ceremony to represent the Queen of Soul.
"I love to see all the love and support from everybody, so it’s just an honor to be here,” said her granddaughter Victorie Franklin.
This year’s celebration started with the annual Freedom Award Student Forum.
Thousands of people packed into the pews of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church to honor students who’ve created a positive change in the Memphis community.
There were eight different honorees for the Keeper of the Dream Award.
We had an opportunity to talk to one student Timmy Becton Jr., who said this is just the beginning for him.
“I just really enjoy providing access to people, it’s kind of why I started my nonprofit Grow Smart,” Becton said. “I wanted to see more people get access to healthy food, so it feels great to be honored today.”
We also talked to Aretha Franklin's son and grandchildren who say they are honored to be here
“I learned a lot of history about the city today, we went to the museum, the civil rights museum and it was amazing, I learned a lot of stuff,” said her grandson Jordan Franklin. “This was really like an epicenter for a lot of amazing things that happened in our culture.”
Franklin’s grandchildren say they plan to visit her childhood home on Thursday.