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2022 Honorees

Charles R. Matthews
2022 Fellowship Open
National Civic Leadership Honoree

Charles R. Matthews

Peoples Gas and Northshore Gas President and CEO Charles R. Matthews will be recognized as the 2022 Fellowship Open Corporate Leadership Honoree. Mr. Matthews oversees the strategic expansion, daily operations, and all administrative functions of WEC Energy Group’s two Illinois utilities that collectively provide natural gas service to nearly 1 million customers in the city of Chicago and 54 communities within the northern suburbs.

“Our responsibility to deliver vital services to millions of customers must engage communities and local businesses in doing so,” remarked Mr. Matthews, “Employment, expansion, and education accompany our commitment to safety and efficiency. I hope to use this acknowledgment to further our mission of service to families in a manner that perpetuates trust and belief. I am excited to join Dr. John Carlos and am extremely proud and exceptionally humbled to receive this award.”

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Dr. John W. Carlos
2022 Fellowship Open
Legends Award Honoree

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Dr. John W. Carlos

In the annals of American social justice, the image of the shoeless John Carlos and Tommie Smith, with fists raised defiantly and heads bowed solemnly as they were awarded their Olympic medals on the podium at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, will forever serve as one of the most enigmatic and resounding expressions of human rights injustice and American social activism. Captured live worldwide, that timeless moment of silent protest has been recognized as the flashpoint when the world’s greatest athletes and social activism merged, catapulting issues of injustice into a different limelight – far-beyond
medals, trophies, and ribbons. That single, gesture has come to be globally recognized as the birth of modern-day activism and the inception of today’s athlete as spokesperson, torchbearer, change-leader, and social activist.

Coinciding with the advancement of technological communications, athletes who were discouraged from using their high-profile platforms to express political dissent or personal views, now realized they had an instantaneous, televised worldwide audience. The fallout suffered from that moment of protest brought ignominy and ostracism to both Dr. Carlos and Dr. Smith for decades. Both were suspended from the team and banned from the Olympic Village, enduring many years of hostility which still reverberates after 54 years of social justice activism. In 2022, athletes and celebrities have become powerful voices in the fight for equality and justice, demonstrating support for causes and issues related to all of humanity.

“While there have been some significant developments in social justice, as I reflect on five decades since the 1968 Olympics, we are still battling exclusion and wide economic and racial disparity daily,” remarked the former world record holder, Dr. Carlos. “This acknowledgment from the Fellowship Open validates and reinforces the efforts of many of our most influential and important civil rights activists and athletes who have used their platforms to communicate a message of equity and inclusion. I eagerly support the work of ground roots organizations like this which seek to improve conditions through a commitment to our youth and communities. I accept this honor with gratitude and humility encouraged by the efforts of the Fellowship Open and its many supporters.”

“The decision to break from Olympic tradition and articulate the struggle of many underprivileged, at-risk people speaks volumes to the courage of Dr. Carlos,” noted John W. Daniels, Jr., Fellowship Open Founder, and Chairman. “While that symbolic gesture still resonates compellingly as a definitive moment in the civil rights struggle, it also speaks clearly to the need for empowering and engaging initiatives like the Fellowship Open which continue to open doors to equity and inclusion specifically through supporting our youth toward academic achievement, personal development, and professional success.”

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