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William Dewitt Dyer Activist Award

March 28th, 2013 by Christy Griffin

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As part of In Defense of Animals’ thirtieth anniversary we are beginning a new tradition, the annual William Dewitt Dyer Activist Award. In Defense of Animals works to encourage the public to fight apathy, build empathy and take concrete action to end all forms of animal exploitation worldwide. We seek to redefine the role of animals in society on local, national and international levels by elevating human perception of animals from that of mere property, objects and things, to that where animals are recognized to be individuals, with feelings, needs and interests of their own.

Our very first William Dewitt Dyer Activist Award will be given to Linda Middlesworth for her outstanding commitment to animal advocacy. As a vegan mentor, Linda helps people transition to a vegan lifestyle. She is the chief organizer for the Sacramento Vegan Society and the co-organizer for Sacramento Animal Rights Advocates. Linda is well-known throughout the animal protection movement and has been a powerful local leader for over twenty years. She is active in many of IDA’s campaigns: she organizes outreach events, spearheads Sacramento’s annual Fur Free Friday, and recently spoke at a wolf rally at the California state capital on IDA’s behalf.

The William Dewitt Dyer Activist Award is named after a longtime animal activist, singer, producer, and recipient of an IDA Lifetime Achievement Award. Bill is considered by many, to be the heart and soul of In Defense of Animals. We chose to give out this special award on Cesar Chavez’s birthday because he was not only an inspirational civil rights leader, but also a strong animal advocate. Cesar Chavez, the founder and president of the United Farm Workers of America, was awarded an IDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. At the ceremony he said:

“We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to make all people understand that animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves… The basis for peace is respecting all creatures… That’s the basis, the beginning for peace…We know we cannot defend or be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them – exploiting them in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food.”