2008 Frederick Douglass Freedom Award winner James Kofi Annan’s continued humanitarian work has garnered yet another prestigious award! It was announced last month that James is the 2011 recipient of a Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice award. The award is given to people under the age of 40 who “demonstrate leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effective positive social change.”
James was sold into slavery at the age of 6 and forced into dangerous work on fishing boats in Ghana for seven years. He finally escaped, taught himself to read, got a college education, and found a small school to help child slavery survivors. In 2003, he founded Challenging Heights, a Ghanaian NGO dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and educating child survivors of slavery. The Freedom Awards helped James expand his anti-slavery work—to date, he has helped more than 75 children to freedom with a new rescue boat and rehabilitation center.
The Grinnell prize awards him $100,000, which will no doubt help Challenging Heights bring even more children out of slavery.
Last year, James spoke at TEDXGrandValley, an independently organized TED event. If you haven’t already, check out his speech below: