April 10, 2021
American Educational Research Association Recognizes Daisaku Ikeda for Contributions to Peace and Education
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has announced its selection of Daisaku Ikeda, SGI president and founder of the international network of Soka Schools and universities, as the recipient of the Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award of its Division B-Curriculum Studies for 2021. AERA, founded in 1916, describes its mission as, “to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.”
The annual award honors the memory of two pioneering women leaders of the Black Freedom Movement, standard bearers of education and human rights who sought “to build the bond between education and human freedom.” President Ikeda was recognized for his contribution to peacebuilding, human rights and education in schools and society, in accordance with the award’s objectives.
In America Will Be! Conversations on Hope, Freedom, and Democracy, a dialogue he published with American historian and human rights activist Vincent Harding (1931–2014), who received this same award in 2010, the two authors discuss Ella Baker and Septima Clark. President Ikeda especially praised Ella Baker’s unwavering trust in young people.
In an acceptance message, President Ikeda expressed his appreciation for the honor bearing the names of these two women who “sought to reform society by unlocking and unleashing the boundless potential inherent in people.” Theirs was a battle against not only the “external evils” of discrimination and oppression, he stated, but also against the “internal evils” of hatred and greed that exist within people’s lives. The means to triumph over such inner evil, he said, “is found in the kind of education that seeks to achieve an inner transformation in the lives of people themselves, to realize the kind of happiness and joy that is shared and savored by both self and other.” President Ikeda said he accepted the award “alongside the young people who, as successors to the heritage of Soka—or value-creating education—are putting its ideals into practice in the United States, Japan and throughout the world.”
(Adapted from an article in the April 16,
2021, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Japan.)