- Honorees include Eric Schaeffer, Building Bridges, Saint George’s Episcopal Church, Café Sazón, and Freddie’s Beach Bar
- Public award ceremony on Thursday, Dec.14
Two community groups, two businesses, and an outstanding individual have been selected as winners of the 2017 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award, Arlington’s highest human rights honor.
The Arlington Human Rights Commission selected this year’s recipients and will present the awards at a ceremony and reception from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Arlington County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22201. The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia, Claire G. Gastañaga, will be the keynote speaker.
“Each year, the Hunter Award shines a spotlight on some of the many people and organizations in Arlington who work every day to advance the cause of human rights in our community through their many efforts,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “The dedication and compassion shown by this year’s honorees make Arlington a more welcoming and inclusive community.”
The James B. Hunter Award recognizes sustained commitment and outstanding accomplishment in the area of human rights made in Arlington by an individual, community group, non-profit organization or business.
About the 2017 James B. Hunter Award winners
Eric Schaeffer is a co-founder and Artistic Director of Arlington’s Signature Theater, which has been the pride of this community for many years. Under Eric’s leadership, Signature has been the recipient of multiple Helen Hayes Awards as well as a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater in America. His life and Signature’s are intertwined, and he has given back to the Arlington community in multiple ways. Eric leads an annual fundraiser to help actors with unexpected health challenges and medical expenses. He has staged and commissioned plays of female playwrights and been a leader in non-traditional casting, which has opened the door for many actors of color. Eric’s life work has contributed to making Signature a venue for people to think about the world they live in, create conversations that foster change, and spawn creativity with messages of hope and justice.
Building Bridges is a community initiative aimed at bridging the divide between values, culture and economics. Its mission is to foster strong and meaningful relationships through outreach, listening and engagement. Recently, it partnered with CARE, Inc., the Nauck Community Archives & Resource Center, and the Arlington County Public Library to curate heritage exhibits, engage in historical education initiatives, and locate historical collections inside the community. Nauck is a historically African-American community that, as an integral part of Arlington’s community history, warrants preservation. Another project included reaching out to people of different political persuasions in hopes of opening and maintaining a civil dialogue and finding areas of common ground.
Saint George’s Episcopal Church has an inclusive, caring and multigenerational congregation that has shown unwavering commitment and a welcoming attitude towards world refugees. It has hosted numerous refugee advocacy workshops conducted by experts to learn practical ways to encourage policymakers to increase acceptance of world refugees in America.
Café Sazón is a small local restaurant which welcomes every member of our community—and has been doing so since 2010. A sign at the door greets every customer by stating that it is a house for all. It has a diverse staff and hosts educational nights to support immigrant rights. A wide cross-section of our community visits this restaurant, including politicians and people of all walks of life.
Freddie’s Beach Bar is considered the only gay bar in Northern Virginia. Since 2001, this business has been actively involved with our community. It has been at the forefront in supporting the LGBTQ community by giving people a space to enjoy and for gay organizations to meet, and by supporting LGBTQ activities with food donations. Freddie’s has also provided space, food and drinks for the American Cancer Society and collected toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots holiday program. Freddie’s is a welcoming space for everyone in Arlington.
About the keynote speaker
Claire G. Gastañaga is Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School and has been a lobbyist for civil rights groups and served on numerous boards and organizations. She served as Chief Deputy Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is currently on the Virginia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.