Eugene V. Debs Award

John Laska, designer of the Debs Award plaque with the first version of the plaque, given to John Lewis
John Laska, designer of the Debs Award plaque, poses with the first  plaque, given to John L. Lewis

The first priority of the Debs Foundation when founded in 1962 was to preserve the Debs Home and open it as a museum for the public.

A second priority was to establish an awards program, this as another way to honor the memory of Debs and to assist in keeping alive the spirit of progressivism, humanitarianism and social criticism epitomized by Debs.

Each year since 1965, with 1971 excepted, an award banquet has been held in Terre Haute honoring a person whose work has been in the spirit of Debs and who has contributed to the advancement of the causes of industrial unionism, social justice, or world peace.

So each fall, a banquet is held as a tribute to Debs and honoring an individual who has made significant contributions to society in the “Debsian” tradition. These persons may have worked in the labor movement, public service or education.


Award Recipients

1980 William Winpisinger 2000 Michael Sullivan
1981 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 2001 Al Chesser
1982 Coretta Scott King 2002 Julian Bond
1983 Studs Terkel 2003 Molly Ivins
1984 William H. Wynn 2004 Bruce Raynor
1965 John L. Lewis 1985 Jack Sheinkman 2005 Thomas Frank
1966 Norman Thomas 1986 Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. 2006 Rick Jacobs
1967 A. Philip Randolph 1987 Edward Asner 2007 Barbara Ehrenreich
1968 Walter Reuther 1988 Joyce Miller 2008 Cecil Roberts
1969 H.E. Gilbert 1989 Morton Bahr 2009 Ron Gettelfinger
1970 Patrick E. Gorman 1990 Lynn R. Williams 2010 Bobby Duval
1971 No Award 1991 John Sayles 2011 Danny Glover
1972 Dorothy Day 1992 Ralph Nader 2012 Clayola Brown
1973 Michael Harrington 1993 Dolores Huerta 2013 Eliseo Medina
1974 Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. 1994 Richard Trumka 2014 Sara Horowitz
1975 Ruben Levin 1995 Jim Hightower 2015 James Boland
1976 Martin H. Miller 1996 Victor Navasky 2016 Cindy Sheehan
1977 Frank Zeidler 1997 John J. Sweeney
1978 Jesse Jackson 1998 Howard Zinn
1979 Pete Seeger 1999 Gloria Johnson