Posted by Tess Waggoner on April 30, 2019 in Blog

The Arab American community will honor individuals and organizations who carry on the humanistic legacy of author and poet Kahlil Gibran at the 21st Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala on the evening of Thursday, May 2, 2019 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. This year’s recipients include former Berkeley, CA mayor Eugene "Gus" NewportRAICESthe largest immigration services provider in TexasLyse Doucet of the BBC, late Chicago-area community leader Miriam Zayed and Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi.  


Individuals, organizations and communities whose work, commitment and support make a difference in promoting coexistence and inclusion in all walks of life are honored at the event, which is named for the famed Arab American artist and author of The Prophet. The awards further symbolize Gibran’s pride in his Arab heritage, respect for the freedom he found in the United States and the powerfully humane message of his life’s work. 

AAI Executive Director Maya Berry noted,

“Gibran’s example of cultural pride and civic engagement continue to inspire and inform our work today. Our Gibran Gala has always been about honoring the best of humanity. From community advocates who define public service, to journalists reminding us of our shared humanity, to an organization at the front lines fighting tirelessly to keep families together, this year’s awardees bring us hope despite deeply troubling times. We are pleased to honor the remarkable contributions of our awardees, who, through their profound accomplishments and service, remind us of our powerful commitments to one another, the human family.” 

Past gala participants and awardees include advocate and actress Salma Hayek Pinault, ALSAC – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the ACLU, former Sen. George Mitchell, Habitat for Humanity, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Reporters Without Borders, the late Muhammad Ali, journalist Christiane Amanpour, Amnesty International, Refugees International and recording star Sting among many others.

2019 Awardees:

RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, will receive the Kahlil Gibran Award for Institutional Excellence for 30 years of outstanding work combined services and advocacy to serve the populations most needing sanctuary: immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. RAICES Chief Executive Officer and President Jonathan Ryan will accept the award on behalf of RAICES, the largest immigration services provider in Texas.

Known for serving as a leader and advocate for generations of Americans, Eugene “Gus” Newport will receive the Kahlil Gibran Individual Achievement Award for his unwavering commitment to uplifting human rights, defending the vulnerable, and working to protect and secure justice for the wronged. Actor and activist Danny Glover will present the award to his longtime friend, Mayor Newport.  

Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent and Senior Presenter, has conducted compassionate and humanizing reporting on the Middle East, including Yemen, Syria, and Palestine over a three-decade career. She will be honored with the Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism, named for the esteemed Arab American journalist who tragically passed while on assignment in 2012.

An esteemed community leader and educator who dedicated her life to the empowerment of her community, the lateMiriam Zayed will be honored with the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service during the 21th Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards. The award will be presented to her daughter by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who knew Miriam for many years through their involvements in Arab American political and civic life.

Emel Mathlouthi is a Tunisian singer-songwriter who defies convention; throughout her career she has consistently broken barriers and defies norms that go far beyond music. She will perform live at the gala and receive an award of Special Recognition.

White House Reporter Vivian Salama will act as Master of Ceremonies for the 2019 Gala.