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Posted on: December 7, 2018

HRRC Recognizes Arnie Bigbee with Tom Oye Award

Edina, Minn., Dec. 5, 2018 – The Human Rights & Relations Commission (HRRC) awarded Arnie Bigbee the 2018 Tom Oye Human Rights Award for his continuous efforts to tackle tough issues in the community.

“When Arnie Bigbee is committed to an issue, he cajoles, implores, pleads, reasons and persists with his advocacy until change happens,” explained Commissioner Ellen Kennedy when presenting the award at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting. “Because change takes a long time, it means that on most issues, Arnie commits to the long haul, to being in the good fight over the duration and to bringing others along with him to generate power to reach the goal.”

Some of the issues that Bigbee has tackled are the lack of affordable housing in Edina, xenophobia and homophobia, bullying in public schools, lack of affordable mass transit, racism and elder fraud. He is a former member of the HRRC, Edina’s Race & Equity Task Force and Minnesota State League of Human Rights Commissions, and has been part of the boards of many civic and faith organizations, including the Red Cross and United Way.

“Every city needs dozens of Arnie Bigbees,” Kennedy said. “We only have one and it is time to honor Arnie Bigbee for his human rights work on behalf of Edina.”

The award was established in recognition of the late Tom Oye who helped found the HRRC in 1970 and served on it for more than 30 years. Oye was also a Nisei 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.

Nominees were evaluated based on their efforts to foster respect and dignity for others, model courage and/or compassion in the advancement of human rights, and demonstrate leadership by example for improving human relations or advancing human rights.

For more information on the award, contact HRRC Staff Liaison MJ Lamon at 952-826-0360 or

Tom Oye Award 2018

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