Local News

An Academy Award-winning actress, a pro football Hall-of-Famer and six young people from around the world were among those honored Saturday night by the Muhammad Ali Center for their humanitarian work.        

The second annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards were presented during a Louisville gala that included a red carpet procession.

Nineteen-year-old honoree Talia Lehman of Iowa is the founder of RandomKid, a non-profit that organizes young people to raise money and help solve problems around the world.

She says her Ali award came as a surprise.

“I didn’t know of him growing up by my dad was very, very like ‘Oh my gosh!’  So I learned.  He told me all these amazing stories,” she said. 

Actress Susan Sarandon was honored for her work with organizations such as UNICEF, the Amazon Conservation Team and Action Against Hunger.

“What’s important is the fight, and not giving up on the fight,” Sarandon said in a red carpet interview. “And sometimes you can’t accomplish what you want to accomplish what in your lifetime completely.  And that doesn’t mean that you’ve been a failure.   It just means that you’ve found a purpose for your life.”

Also honored was NFL Hall-of-Famer and civil rights activist Jim Brown, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“I was an American paying my taxes and demanding my rights. So I have to stand up and am dealing with what this country is built on. So it’s not even a question. Standing up is a part of what we do as Americans,” Brown told WFPL’s Jaison Gardner

It was Brown who rallied some of the nation’s top athletes to support Muhammad Ali’s decision to resist the Vietnam War draft.

The rapper Common and entrepreneur Mark Ebeling also received Humanitarian Awards, as did Robert and Deborah Blair, who were recognized for their work as founders of Louisville’s West End School. 

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."