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Physician, author, and reproductive rights activist Dr. Willie Parker will be the keynote speaker at Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR)’s upcoming James Awards celebration dinner. The ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 28 at the Hilton Memphis, 939 Ridge Lake Blvd, Memphis, TN 38120.

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Dr. Parker has received widespread recent acclaim for his best-selling new book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument For Choice.  Gloria Steinem, keynote speaker at the 2016 75th Anniversary James Award gala, has praised Dr. Parker and his book by saying, “At a moment when reproductive health and rights are under attack like never before, Dr. Parker's book is a beacon of hope and a call to action. In it, he transcends politics and cliche to show readers the world through the eyes of a doctor who approaches his work with humility, compassion, and defiance… This book will change lives."

This year, the James Award will be presented to two of Planned Parenthood’s most outspoken and courageous political supporters, Shelby County Commissioners Reginald Milton and Van Turner, both of whom were critical in protecting federal HIV-prevention funding for PPGMR’s successful “Free Condoms Memphis” program.

The Judy Scharff Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Happy Jones,  Modeane Thompson, Jeanne Varnell, and Jocelyn Wurzburg -- the Founders of the Memphis Panel of American Women. The organization used integrated panels of women – Jewish, Catholic, African-American and white Protestant to raise awareness of prejudice, racism and discrimination. These women played a central role in Memphis’s female activist community in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike.

Felecia Actkinson is this year’s honored Volunteer of the Year, while Bailea Coleman and Kelsie Richardson will be recognized as Young Volunteers of the Year.


Tickets and tables for the 2017 James Award gala are now on-sale. Contact Grace Weil at [email protected] or 901-725-3008 for more information.