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Posted on: September 17, 2021

Nominations to be Collected for Human Rights Award

Edina, Minn., Sept. 14, 2021 – The City of Edina Human Rights & Relations Commission (HRRC) on Sept. 27 will begin accepting nominations for the 2021 Tom Oye Human Rights Award, recognizing individuals or groups in the community whose good work promotes human relations and advances human rights. 

“One of the highlights of being a member of the Human Rights & Relations Commission is the honor of awarding a recipient with the Tom Oye Award,” said Michael Epstein, Chair of the advisory group. “The award, named for Tom Oye, an early member of the HRRC, is given each year to someone whose good deeds demonstrate human rights within our community. Often, these individuals are overlooked and it has been a wonderful experience to learn about and recognize these people who are quietly working behind the scenes to make Edina a more welcoming place through their courage and determination.”

The award was established in recognition of the late Tom Oye who helped found the HRRC and served on it for more than 30 years. Oye was also a soldier in World War II, a second-generation Japanese American who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In 2003, Oye received the Prize for Humanity by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation.

Anyone who lives, studies or works in Edina, or who makes significant contributions to Edina, is eligible for the Tom Oye Human Rights Award. Nominees will be evaluated based on their efforts to foster respect and dignity for others in the advancement of human rights. The term “human rights” includes freedom from discrimination because of race, color, creed religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, status with regard to public assistance, family status or national origin.  

Previous Tom Oye Award recipients include the Edina High School Black Student Union, Rachel Adegbenro, Rebecca Sorenson, Sanford Berman, Olivia Pierce, Arnie Bigbee, Saumya Mangalick, Lauren Morse-Wendt, Jessi Kingston, Tom McKenzie and Kristin Aarsvold, Alec Fischer, Joyce Repya, Dan Johnson, Karen Hazel, Kelly Fitzgerald, Rachael Pream Grenier, Sandy Schley, Shata Mohtadi and Emma Weisberg, Debby McNeil, Ellen Kennedy and Mary Ellingen. 

Nominations are due Monday, Nov. 8. The Tom Oye Human Rights Award Application can be found online starting Sept. 27 at For more information or to receive a paper copy of the application, contact Lee at or 952-826-1622.


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