On Friday, June 29, 2012, the African American Jazz Caucus held a special awards ceremony at the Indiana Landmarks Center in Indianapolis. The Jazz Masters Award was presented to Melvin Rhyne (jazz organist and original member of the Wes Montgomery Trio), Frank Smith (jazz bassist; performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Zoot Sims), and Benny Barth (jazz drummer; performed with Duke Ellington; original member of the Mastersounds).
In exploring the relevance, significance and impact of jazz in a broader context on American culture and humanity, the African American Jazz Caucus introduced the Spirit of Freedom Awards. Looking beyond jazz as merely a music genre to recognizing its power as a social movement, the Spirit of Freedom Award makes connections between music and musicians to the larger community of peacemakers who share in the belief and mission of working for freedom and justice for all people.
The first presentation of the Spirit of Freedom Awards went to Gilbert Holmes for Leadership (former Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana), Mari Evans for Literature (renowned African American author, poet, composer and educator) and Thomas Norman DeWolf for Social Justice (public speaker, author, and activist).
You can watch Tom’s acceptance speech here.
Tom and and his writing partner Sharon are working with the AAJC to plan an appearance during their upcoming book tour for Gather at the Table in Indianapolis in November.