The biggest night of the year every year for the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro is the annual gala, which in 2023 is on Tuesday, July 25.

This year the museum will have a special guest – the Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette – who’ll be handed the museum’s highest award at the museum’s biggest fundraising event.

The gala is being held on July 25 this year since that date is the “63rd Anniversary of the success of the Greensboro Sit-Ins, when the F.W. Woolworth’s was racially integrated.”

Lafayette, who was born in 1940, is a longtime civil rights leader in the tradition of many other black reverends who have battled social injustice since the Civil Rights Movement began. He played a large role in organizing the Selma Voting Rights Movement – to name just one of the many activities that have advanced civil rights over in his long life where he’s preached social change through non-violent means.

Civil Rights Museum officials write of him: “A crucial contributor to the progress of social justice, Dr. Lafayette’s career has been distinguished for its constructive leadership in multiple organizations central to the modern Civil Rights Movement. He has long been included on the [museum’s] short list of prospective honorees.”

They also note that he’s known for his “practical and enduring” writings on non-violent methods of changing society..

Lafayette will highlight the museum’s commemoration of the Sit-In Movement and the 1963 March on Washington.

The Civil Rights Museum had previously announced that US Rep. Kweisi Mfume would receive the award – but Mfume later learned that “essential congressional business will prevent his coming to Greensboro then.”