Published July 22, 2017
TULSA –Longtime American Indian advocate, LaDonna Harris will accept the third annual Oklahoma Changing World Prize on Sunday, September 24, at the Woody Guthrie Center in downtown Tulsa. The Oklahoma Changing World Prize is given annually by the Woody Guthrie Center, presented in 2017 by the Chickasaw Nation.
Harris, a citizen of the Comanche Nation, is an American Indian activist and international civil rights leader. As president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity (www.aio.org), Harris has brought American Indian issues to a national stage. She has been active in the environmental, world peace, and women’s rights movements. Harris recently served as an Honorary Co-Chair for the Women’s March on Washington in January.
“The Woody Guthrie Center is proud to recognize the work of LaDonna Harris with the Oklahoma Changing World Prize,” said Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud. “As an advocate for equality, peace, and social justice, Ms. Harris follows in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie as a guiding force for positive change in our world.”
Born in Cotton County, Oklahoma and raised by her grandparents, Harris grew up steeped in Comanche values. After helping to integrate the down of Lawton, Okla., Harris founded the first statewide Indian organization—Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity. While married to Fred Harris, who was a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma from 1964 to 1973, she became the first senator’s wife to testify before a congressional committee. Her work changed the country’s perception of contemporary Native peoples, providing an influence on laws and lawmakers that still guide federal Indian policy.
Harris was a founding member of both Common Cause and the National Urban Coalition, speaking out against poverty and for social justice. She was an original convener of the National Woman’s Political Caucus and was the Vice Presidential nominee on the Citizens Party ticket with Barry Commoner in 1980. In her international work, Harris was the U.S. representative to UNESCO and to the OAS Inter-American Indigenous Institute. Harris currently serves on the board of Think New Mexico, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
The Oklahoma Changing World Prize is inspired by Woody Guthrie’s lyrics to his song “Changing World”: “Change the pen and change the ink/Change the way you talk and think…Change the ways of this changing world.”
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