Former Volunteers of Color Receive Special Award for Continued Service at Home; Leonard Robinson, President and CEO of the National Summit on Africa Receives Director's Award

February 23, 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 23, 2001—Twelve outstanding community leaders from around the country, all former Peace Corps volunteers, were honored with the Franklin H. Williams Award in a ceremony on February 21 at Peace Corps headquarters.

"The Franklin Williams award embodies the spirit of the third goal of the Peace Corps," acting Peace Corps Director Charles R. Baquet said. "Tonight's awardees have lived up to the third goal by putting their overseas experiences to work in their communities and in their professions to improve the quality of life for people in this country."

Williams made a significant contribution to his community, to the nation and to the world at large before his death in 1990. He served as a diplomat, as an advocate for civil rights and as one of Sargent Shriver's trusted deputies during the Peace Corps' formative years. He also served as president for the Phelps-Stokes fund, which focuses on educational opportunities for Americans of color and Africans.

Leonard Robinson, President and CEO of the National Summit on Africa and a former Peace Corps volunteer, was the keynote speaker. Robinson received the director's award for his dedication to educating Americans about Africa and building a broad constituency of support for Africa in the United States.

"Among the distinguishing characteristics of former Peace Corps volunteers is their enduring desire to serve and facilitate the interests of our fellow women and men, especially those right here at home," Robinson said. "This altruistic trait has, from the inception of the Peace Corps, pertained to Americans of color who have served as volunteers and staff. I am especially proud that the honorees tonight have been integral to the development of the Peace Corps."

Others who spoke at the ceremony included Dr. Samara Mohassan El Bey, one of this year's award recipients from the Washington, D.C., area, and Franklin Williams' widow, Shirley.

"On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Peace Corps, we realize that the agency has adapted and grown gracefully, not at the expense of its mission," Williams said. "I'm happy to report that I think the Peace Corps is in good health and in good hands."

Today, more than 1000 Americans of color are serving as Peace Corps volunteers in 76 countries around the world. Throughout the agency's 40-year history, thousands of volunteers of color have promoted grassroots development and cross-cultural understanding between Americans and people of developing nations. Since 1961, more than 162,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 134 nations.

More about 2001 Award Recipients

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