Verizon and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation presented outgoing National Education Association President Reg Weaver with the Augustus “Gus” Hawkins Excellence in Education Award Thursday (Aug. 28) at the Celebration of African-American Leadership.
Weaver, a longtime leader and strong advocate for providing great public schools, has continually championed efforts to improve education and bring unique learning opportunities to all children.
One such opportunity was the NEA’s joint effort with Verizon to bring a rare copy of the Magna Carta to the United States for an exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in July 2007. The exhibit, titled Magna Carta: Foundation of Freedom, coincided with the NEA’s national conference in Philadelphia.
“The CBCF applauds Reg Weaver’s long-standing commitment to improving the U.S. education system,” said CBCF President and CEO Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D. “He has been a passionate advocate for quality education and for providing solutions to problems that plague inner city and other schools that serve the poor and minorities.”
The Excellence in Education award is named in honor of former U.S. Rep. Augustus “Gus” Hawkins, a longtime education and civil rights advocate.
During his congressional career, Hawkins played a key role in enacting Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars job discrimination based on race or sex. After retiring from Congress in 1991, Hawkins created The National Council on Educating Black Children, which advocates improving educational opportunities for African-Americans.
“My generation is forever indebted to trailblazers like Augustus ‘Gus’ Hawkins,” said U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek of Florida, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “Where barriers existed, he tore them down. When history was made, he was at the forefront. Similarly, Reg Weaver has earned his place in history as a critical voice on public education in this country and abroad during his six-year tenure at the National Education Association.
“Reg Weaver led a groundbreaking organizational transformation effort designed to improve the quality of public schools,” Meek said. “I am honored to present Reg Weaver with the inaugural Augustus ‘Gus’ Hawkins Excellence in Education Award for his hard work in helping students reach the excellence of their human potential.”
Kathy Brown, Verizon senior vice president, public policy development and corporate responsibility, commended Weaver as a leader in championing the use of technology to expand learning opportunities.
“Thanks to Reg Weaver’s leadership, learning is taking on a new meaning,” said Brown. “Reg understands the power of the Internet to bring vast educational resources to teachers, parents and kids. That’s why he’s such a strong supporter of Verizon’s signature program, Thinkfinity.org.
“I am delighted that we are joining with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to honor Reg for his commitment to bringing innovative technologies into the classroom,” Brown said.
Weaver, who began his education career as a middle school science teacher, served two terms as president of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. He also serves as vice president of Education International, a 348-member organization representing more than 29 million teachers and education workers in 169 countries. He has addressed conferences and forums sponsored by numerous national organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Rainbow Push Coalition, League of United Latin Citizens (LULAC), ASPIRA and ACORN.