Salem Award

Each year Voices Against Injustice recognizes and honors an individual or organization that is speaking out and taking action to confront discrimination and stand up for human rights and social justice. In recognizing them, we publicly celebrate the significance and impact of their deep and meaningful work. They embody the integrity and courage of those who dared to support the individuals persecuted, jailed and executed as witches in 1692.

History educator and author Sam Mihara is the recipient of the 2023 Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice. As a survivor of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, Mihara has spent more than 20 years speaking to audiences about both his family’s experience and contemporary injustices around mass incarceration and the detention of undocumented immigrants. In 2014, Mihara joined the Board of Directors of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, which “works to preserve what remains of the World War II Japanese American confinement site in Park County, Wyoming, and to tell the stories of the more than 14,000 people unjustly incarcerated at the site.” Mihara is also the author of Blindsided: The Life and Times of Sam Mihara, which describes his family’s harrowing experience with Japanese American incarceration.

To be considered for the Salem Award, individuals or organizations must demonstrate:

  • A commitment, through their work, to raising voices and confronting human rights and social injustice
  • Courage in the face of bigotry and intolerance
  • Efforts that advance the cause of human rights and social justice

Voices Against Injustice usually selects the Salem Award recipient in the fall and presents the award each spring in a ceremony open to the public. Click the button below to visit our Nomination page.

Nomination Forms (online)

Past Recipients (click year for details)

2023 - History educator and author Sam Mihara, a survivor of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, for speaking out about both his family’s experience and contemporary injustices around mass incarceration and the detention of undocumented immigrants
2022 - Investigative journalist and author, Jerry Mitchell who, as a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger, spent three decades investigating civil rights cases that had gone cold.
2021 - Cosecha MA, the Massachusetts chapter of Movimiento Cosecha, for courageously pursuing the passage of the Work and Family Mobility Act in Massachusetts and their multifaceted focus on empowering immigrant communities.
2020 - The Massachusetts Bail Fund for their work towards ending the injustices of pre-trial detention here in Massachusetts and across the country
2019 - Ana Maria Archila, for speaking out for victims of sexual assault, and for work with Center for Popular Democracy
2017/2018 - The GroundTruth Project and its founder Charles M. Sennott
2016 - Anne Driscoll - For her ground-breaking contributions in overturning wrongful convictions
2015 - Jose Antonio Vargas - For his tireless advocacy for immigration rights
2014 - Brian Concannon and Mario Joseph - Restoring democracy, justice, and human rights to Haiti
2012/2013 - Thomas Doyle and Horace Seldon - Seventy years of commitment to human rights
2011 - City Life/Vida Urbana - For fighting social and economic injustice
2010 - Dr. Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D. - For his work on the causes, treatment and acceptance of post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers and veterans
2009 - Greg Mortenson - Co-founder and Executive Director, Central Asia Institute
2008 - Coalition of Immokalee Workers - For its work to end slavery in the U.S. agricultural industry
2007 - Eric Reeves - Champion for human rights and peace in Sudan
2006 - Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift and Professor Neal Katyal - Lead co-counsels, Supreme Court Case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
2005 - Paula Donovan - Senior Advisor, Office of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa
2004 - Fahima Vorgetts - Director, Afghan Women’s Fund
2003 - Jane Elliott - Educator and diversity trainer
2002 - James C. McCloskey - Founder and Executive Director Centurion Ministries, Inc.
2001 - Robert W. Raiche - Founder and Chairman Friends Forever
2000 - Jane Schaller, M.D. - Founder of Physicians for Human Rights 
1999 - Leonard P. Zakim - Executive Director of the New England Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League
1998 - Barbara Vogel - Developed the S.T.O.P. campaign to raise awareness about ongoing slavery
1997 - Vicky Guzman, M.D. - Founder and Director of ASAPROSAR (Salvadoran Association for Rural Health)
1996 - Aaron Feuerstein - Third Generation Owner and CEO of Malden Mills
1995 - Harry Wu - Founder of the Laogai Research Foundation
1994 - William Johnston - Former Boston Police officer; works with Facing History and Ourslves, an educational program about bias and oppression
1993 - Morris Dees - Co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center
1992 - Gregory Alan Williams - Hero of the 1992 Los Angeles race riots and first recipient of the Salem Award