Civil Rights Conference Awards

Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award

Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award nomination form

2019 Winner — Dr. M. Dewayne Mays

The Lincoln Commission on Human Rights (LCHR) awards a Lincoln community member annually with the Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award in recognition of their outstanding achievements and commitment to human rights. LCHR’s original Human Rights award was re-named in 2004 to honor the legacy of LCHR’s first Director, Gerald Henderson. Mr. Henderson’s legacy includes, in part, his work at the Malone Community Center, the Lincoln Action Program, as well as his activity in many local and national organizations and movements, such as the NAACP, ACLU of Nebraska, Nebraskans for Peace, and the March on Washington in 1963 followed by voter registration organizing in Selma, Alabama. Mr. Henderson worked diligently throughout his lifetime for the rights of people and the elimination of racism and discrimination.

It is only fitting that this year’s Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award was presented to a similarly dedicated individual, current NAACP Lincoln Branch President, and friend of Mr. Henderson, Dr. M. Dewayne Mays. Dr. Mays’ nominator describes his work as “in the spirit of Gerald Henderson” and that Dr. Mays “has stood for peace and justice in the Lincoln community in a variety of ways,” which could not be more true. Dr. Mays’ work and the impact he has had, and continues to have, in the community, is unparalleled. In addition to his 38 ½ years working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, including efforts to increase diversity within the agency, and Special Consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development with assignments in Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ghana, Dr. Mays has served as a facilitator and planner for various civil rights groups and forums in the Lincoln community; organized and participated in voter workshops and Get Out the Vote (GOTV), served as a Board member of ACLU of Nebraska, and testified before the Lincoln City Council, Nebraska Legislature, Lincoln School Board and many other boards. Dr. Mays is a current member of the Board of Directors of Nebraska Appleseed, a NAACP Life Member, and a recipient of the NAACP Community Service Award.

Dr. Mays is married to Jeraldine Mays and they have a son, Brian, and a daughter, Kessondra, and six grandchildren. Dr. Mays is active in church and the religious community, where he serves as a deacon and choir member at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. LCHR and this year’s nominators are proud to honor Dr. Mays’ leadership and anti-discrimination work with the 2019 Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award.


Past Winners

  • 2018 Edward D. Wimes
  • 2017 Olga Kanne
  • 2016 Thomas Christie
  • 2015 Wendy Francis
  • 2014 Amir A. Azimi
  • 2013 Kit Boesch
  • 2012 Linda Willard
  • 2011 Larry Williams
  • 2010 Pastor Janet Goodman-Banks
  • 2009 No Award
  • 2008 Annie & Leroy Stokes
  • 2007 Beatty Brasch
  • 2006 Florine Joseph
  • 2005 Judi M. Gaiashkibos
  • 2004 Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, Inc., Director Milo Mumgaard
  • 2003 Jose Soto & The Division of Affirmative Action, Equity and Diversity of Southeast Community College
  • 2002 No Award
  • 2001 Cecilia Olivarez-Huerta
  • 2000 Dan Williams