In 1971, a courageous group of activists stole documents from the FBI office in Media, Pa., and sent them anonymously to the press. Their objective was to uncover evidence of FBI surveillance and intimidation of civil rights and anti-war groups. The documents they found sparked an investigation into the FBI’s spying on Americans and eventually led to greater oversight of intelligence agencies.
The group called itself the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, and the members’ identities had been unknown until several came forward in January, when a book and film about the story were announced.
Bread & Roses is honoring the group, including members Bonnie Raines, John Raines, and Keith Forsyth, at the Tribute to Change in June. They will be receiving the Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to social change throughout their lifetimes.
Each year, the Tribute to Change brings together donors, activists, and allies working for real change in the Philadelphia region. The annual celebration honors community leaders who have made significant contributions to movements for change.
The members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI demonstrated extraordinary dedication to a set of principles higher than the law and inspired Bread & Roses to make “Conscience and Freedom” the theme of this year’s Tribute to Change.
“Freedom depends upon the courage and force of an independent conscience,” says John Raines, who is now retired from a long career as a professor of religion at Temple University. “J. Edgar Hoover wanted to tame conscience in the service of established privilege and power. Massive surveillance and campaigns of disinformation were his weapons. To stop that we needed whistleblowers, and we still need them today.”
Bonnie Raines says, “I did it because I believe that each of us is responsible for protecting democracy. Whistleblowers of all generations, from our group in 1971 to Edward Snowden, have gone to great lengths to shine light on illegal and immoral actions so that ‘we the people’ remain the final arbiters of our democratic values.”
The 2014 Tribute to Change will be held on Tuesday, June 24, at the National Museum of American Jewish History. To learn more about the Citizens’ Commission and other Tribute to Change honorees, visit www.breadrosesfund.org/tribute-to-change.
Emerging Leader Award
This award is given to an individual who is beginning to make their mark as a community organizer.
This award is given to an outstanding leader in community organizing who has helped to pave the way for others.
Community Empowerment Award
This award is given to a community organization, union, or campaign that has accomplished a great deal for change, not charity.
Resource Generation Philadelphia
Robin Hood Was Right Award
This award is for an individual or organization making an outstanding contribution to social change philanthropy in the Philadelphia region.
Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI
Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award
This award is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to social change throughout their lifetimes.