CHICAGO – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation (ALPLF) will award its prestigious Lincoln Leadership Prize to Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair. Mr. Blair is widely recognized around the world for his stewardship of the United Kingdom through an especially important period in its history, and has been lauded for his post-governmental philanthropic work enhancing government effectiveness, particularly in Africa, and promoting stability and understanding in the Middle East.
The Lincoln Leadership Prize – to be awarded April 24, 2018, in Chicago – is an annual award that recognizes outstanding individuals for a lifetime of service in the spirit of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The award honors individuals who manifest great strength of character, individual conscience and unwavering commitment to the defining principles of democracy.
“We are delighted to honor Mr. Blair with the Lincoln Leadership Prize,” said Ray McCaskey, Chair of the ALPLF Board of Directors. “He embodies the kind of leadership that President Lincoln would have recognized and appreciated. Through his tenure as Prime Minister and his global good works since then, Mr. Blair embodies the spirit of President Lincoln. President Lincoln and Mr. Blair both led their countries through tumultuous times and understood they would make decisions that might be unpopular with the general public,” McCaskey added. “Yet, they remained singularly focused on the policies that would strengthen their countries and improve the lives of their constituents in the long term.”
President Lincoln led the United States through the four-year Civil War. It was Lincoln’s leadership that preserved the Union, paved the way for the abolition of slavery and strengthened the federal government.
Mr. Blair, who was the longest serving Labour Party Prime Minister (1997 to 2007), guided the Northern Ireland peace process, bringing the country together after decades of conflict. Throughout Mr. Blair’s tenure he prioritized legislation that transformed the lives of citizens. Under Mr. Blair’s leadership the UK Government introduced the National Minimum Wage and civil partnerships; revitalized public services, particularly health care and education through a program of investment and reform; increased maternity leave and pay; lifted the young and old out of poverty; and passed equality and human rights legislation.
Since leaving office, Mr. Blair has spent most of his time working in the Middle East and Africa, and on the fight against religiously based extremism. The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is supporting the next generation of leaders to meet some of the most difficult challenges they face today: helping countries alleviate poverty, raise living standards, foster religious and cultural tolerance, and advance peace and reconciliation. The Institute is also driving forward practical policy solutions to meet some of these challenges and re-kindle a vision of optimism for the future.
Mr. Blair will add the Lincoln Leadership Prize to other honors he has received including the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Liberty Medal. He also was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine in 2008. Mr. Blair obtained his B.A. in Jurisprudence from St. John’s College, Oxford, and then became a member of The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and enrolled as a pupil barrister. His political career began in 1983 when he was elected a Member of Parliament for Sedgefield and went on to become the leader of the Labour Party in 1994 and Prime Minister in 1997.
“It is fitting that Mr. Blair be the first British citizen to receive this coveted prize, since President Lincoln had his own English roots. He was a descendant of Samuel Lincoln, an Englishman who migrated from Hingham, Norfolk,” said Dr. Carla Knorowski, Chief Executive Officer of ALPLF.
Since 2006, the ALPLF has awarded the Lincoln Leadership Prize to 10 prestigious individuals who serve in the Lincoln tradition. Previous honorees include Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Civil Rights Activists The Little Rock Nine, Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, former Polish President Lech Walesa, Journalist Tim Russert, Astronaut James Lovell, Jr., Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
This event is only one of many the ALPLF and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will host as part of the yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, which formally became a state December 3, 1818. The annual event also serves as the primary fundraiser for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation for the benefit of the Museum and Library, which is not a part of the National Archives Records Administration’s federal system of presidential libraries. For more information about the Lincoln Leadership Prize please visit www.alplm.org. For tickets and/or table sponsorship information please call 312/553-2000.
About the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation supports the collections and the educational and cultural programming of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; fosters Lincoln scholarship through the acquisition and publication of documentary materials relating to Lincoln and his era; and promotes a greater appreciation of history through exhibits, conferences, publications, online services, and other activities designed to promote historical literacy.