Keepers of the Dream: Freedom Award

Keepers of the Dream

Keepers of the Dream: Freedom Award

The Kentucky Center, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202
Sunday, January 14, 2024, 5 p.m.

The Freedom Award will be given to citizens who best exemplify the ideals of Dr. King's vision, while the celebration will honor and recognize all the outstanding citizens of Louisville who have received this honor. The event serves as a time for the community to come together and reflect on past struggles while celebrating forward progress towards a brighter future.

The 2024 Keepers of the Dream program will highlight Black Joy. The civil rights movement was a trying time but, through the crevices of trauma, Black Americans still managed to find hope and joy.

Mayor Craig Greenberg will present the Freedom Award in Whitney Hall honoring this year's two recipients: Carolle Jones Clay and Senator Gerald Neal. Read more about the recipients below.

There will be performances by River City Drum Corp, Keen Dance Theatre, and Redline Performing Arts. Also featuring LaNita Rocknettes School of Dance, The Real Young Prodigys, The Louisville Living Room, Joshua Percell and Courageous, UofL African American Theatre Program, and much more. Preshow performance 4 to 4:45 p.m. by Redline Performing Arts in The Kentucky Center Lobby, and a post-show performance from River City Drum Corp.

This event is free and open to the public, FREE parking available in The Kentucky Center Garage.


The Freedom Award is generously sponsored by Republic Bank



2024 Freedom Award Recipients

Freedom Award Recipient 1

Senator Gerald Neal, a graduate of Kentucky State University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science, holds an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the same institution and a Juris Doctor of Law degree from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. Currently, he serves as the Senior Fellow of Public Policy and Adjunct Professor at the University of Louisville, teaching courses in History, Government, and Civil Rights & the Law. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at Simmons College of Kentucky and practices law at Gerald A. Neal & Associates, LLC in Louisville.
Senator Neal founded the Kentucky African American All Children’s Caucus and The African American Community Agenda Initiative (AAI), focusing on educational diversity and policy research. Elected in 1989, he represents District 33 in Louisville and holds the title of Dean of the Kentucky Senate, being the second African American to serve in the State Senate. In 2022, he was elected Leader of the Kentucky Senate Democratic Caucus.
Senator Neal has received various honors, including induction into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame (2001), Distinguished Alumni Law Fellow of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law (2006), and the Lawrence Grauman Award (2017). He is an advocate for senior citizens, youth, and minorities, sponsoring legislation in the Kentucky Senate for equal educational opportunities, healthcare coverage, and minority rights.

Freedom Award Recipient 2

Carolle is currently the Senior Vice President - Managing Director of Community Relations for Republic Bank & Trust Company in Louisville, Kentucky. In February 2020, she became the President of the Republic Bank Foundation. Joining the bank in 1998, Carolle is responsible for community relations, philanthropy, and oversees the Special Events Department. 
She serves on various community boards, including the Louisville Downtown Partnership and the University of Louisville Depression Center Advisory Council. Carolle is an active member on multiple boards, including the Kentucky Derby Festival, Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation, WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation/Bell Awards Board of Trustees, and more. She was appointed by Mayor Greg Fischer to Co-Chair the Historic Preservation Task Force Committee and served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art & Monuments. Carolle, a graduate of Western Kentucky University, received the 2023 Doctor of Laws Degree from Spalding University and was honored with the 2023 WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation and Churchill Downs Inc., "The John Asher Spirit Award" for her humanitarian efforts.


Freedom Award Recipients: 

  • Lyman T. Johnson, 1988
  • Rev. W. J. Hodge, 1989
  • Former State Senator Georgia Davis Powers, 1990
  • Rev. William E. Summers III, 1991
  • Rev. Thomas F. Moffett, 1992
  • Father Patrick Delahanty, 1993
  • Art Walters, 1994
  • Sam Watkins, 1995
  • Willie Gray, 1996
  • Deborah Todd, 1997
  • Dr. Kevin Cosby, 1998
  • Rev. Charles E. Kirby, 2000
  • Dr. Samuel Robinson, 2001
  • Dr. J. Blaine Hudson, 2002
  • Ed Hamilton, 2004
  • Beverly Watts, 2005
  • Raoul Cunningham, 2006
  • Ben Richmond, 2007
  • James O. Chatham, 2008
  • Dr. Bernard Minnis, 2009
  • Mervin Aubespin, 2010
  • Charlie Johnson, 2011
  • Darryl T. Owens, 2012
  • Ishmon Burks, 2013
  • Suzanne "Suzy" Post, 2014
  • Ed White, 2015
  • George Burney, 2016
  • Manfred Reid, 2017
  • Rev. Charles Elliott, 2018
  • Diane Porter, 2019 
  • Mattie Jones, 2020 
  • Event postponed due to Covid, 2021
  • William E. Summers IV, Wanda Mitchell Smith, Karina Barillas, 2022
  • Dawne Gee, Junior Bridgeman, 2023
  • Carolle Jones Clay, Senator Gerald Neal, 2024

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