Annual Civil Rights Conference

Civil Rights Conference 2024 (CRC2024)


Joy Harjo

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Nebraska Innovation Campus
2021 Transformation Dr, Lincoln, NE 68508

Civil Rights Pre-Conference 2024


John Harris

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 

1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Courtyard Marriott
808 R St, Lincoln, NE 68508

Civil Rights Pre-Conference 2024 Flyer(PDF, 507KB)

Call 402-441-7624 or email for details.

Register Now!


Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019-2022 and is winner of Yale's 2023 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.

Photograph of Joy Harjo

The author of ten books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed, Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years, several plays and children's books, and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior, her many honors include the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Harjo delivered the 2021 Windham-Campbell Lecture at Yale, part of the virtual Windham-Campbell Prize Festival that year. That lecture was the basis for Catching the Light, published in 2022 by Yale University Press in the Why I Write series.

As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including her newest, I Pray for My Enemies. She served as Exec­u­tive Edi­tor of the anthol­o­gy When the Light of the World was Sub­dued, Our Songs Came Through — A Nor­ton Anthol­o­gy of Native Nations Poet­ry and the editor of Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry, the companion anthology to her signature Poet Laureate project.

She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, served as Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and is the first Artist-in-Residence for Tulsa's Bob Dylan Center. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

John Harris

Photograph of John Harris

John Leonard Harris is a native of St. Louis Missouri who currently resides in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mr. Harris is a dynamic keynote and conference speaker, award-winning writer, poet and actor. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia (Speech and Dramatic Arts, emphasis Radio-TV-Film Production) and his Master's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Education, emphasis Teaching and Learning).

Mr. Harris founded Encouragement Consulting Services through which he has provided workshops and training for over 20 years in the areas of: corporate culture, workplace diversity, leadership, motivation, personal and professional growth, organizational effectiveness, team building and employment (hiring, job search tools and techniques).

Mr. Harris has worked as a consultant, training partner and employee coach for TAG Consulting and Insignia Federal Group, both in Fairfax, Virginia. He has worked as a Subject Matter Expert for Continuum Employee Assistance Program (Lincoln, Nebraska) and Southern Glazer's Distributors (Dallas, Texas). He is a skilled consultant, employee coach, program developer and workshop facilitator. Mr. Harris always receives excellent reviews for his program design, delivery and content impact. His interactive and engaging style makes learning enjoyable for all participants.

Mr. Harris has been honored with his selection to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Wall of Honor", the Melvin Jones Mentoring Award for his work with youth and the Millard T. Woods Award for his contributions to the community. His greatest achievement is his 37 year marriage to his wife, Charlene, and the raising of their four adult children (Preston, Shannon, JoAnna and John Jr.) They have four beautiful grandchildren (Eli, Legend, Owen, and Jacyxn Love).


Civil Rights Conference Awards

Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award

2023 Winner — Kevin Abourezk

Kevin Abourezk is an award-winning journalist who spent 18 years as a reporter and editor for the Lincoln Journal Star, where he wrote thousands of stories and produced numerous news videos. He is the winner of the Associated Press’s Best Enterprise Story Award in 2006 and the prestigious Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism from the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families for his reporting on the impact of alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

A member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Kevin Abourezk has spent his career documenting the lives, accomplishments and tragedies of Native American people. In 2017 he joined, a Native American news website owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. He hosts a bi-weekly podcast for called “Indian Times” that focuses on Native American news. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of South Dakota and a master of arts degree in Professional Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Kevin Abourezk’s service as a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Lincoln was a beacon of light and hope in the midst of the difficult, yet important work of finding whether or not there was reasonable cause to determine unlawful discrimination occurred within the City of Lincoln in response to community members’ complaints of discrimination filed with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights. His level of analysis, his attention to all relevant facts and details, as well his neutral and insightful perspective provided the community confidence that complaints of discrimination were investigated and adjudicated fairly and equitably. Moreover, Kevin Abourezk has been a steadfast advocate for the Indigenous community in Lincoln and throughout the area, including board service of the Indian Center, volunteering to provide education surrounding Indigenous justice to the Mayor’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, leading the Niskíthe Prayer Camp fight to maintain access and ability to use sacred ceremonial site in Lincoln, and so much more.

Past Winners

  • 2022 No Award
  • 2021 No Award
  • 2020 Dr. Eric A. Evans
  • 2019 Dr. M. Dewayne Mays
  • 2018 Edward D. Wimes
  • 2017 Olga Kanne
  • 2016 Thomas Christie
  • 2015 Wendy Francis
  • 2014 Amir A. Azimi
  • 2013 Kit Boesch
  • 2012 Linda Willard
  • 2011 Larry Williams
  • 2010 Pastor Janet Goodman-Banks
  • 2009 No Award
  • 2008 Annie & Leroy Stokes
  • 2007 Beatty Brasch
  • 2006 Florine Joseph
  • 2005 Judi M. gaiashkibos
  • 2004 Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, Inc., Director Milo Mumgaard
  • 2003 Jose Soto & The Division of Affirmative Action, Equity and Diversity of Southeast Community College
  • 2002 No Award
  • 2001 Cecilia Olivarez-Huerta
  • 2000 Dan Williams