Every other year, the Rothko Chapel searches for leaders who share the spirit of the lateArchbishop Óscar Romero of San Salvador.
Archibishop Romero worked tirelessly to fight against poverty and social injustice. Pope Francis declared Romero a martyr on Feb. 3 and we will be beatified in El Salvador on May 23.
The Rothko Chapel began honoring the Archbishop’s legacy in 1986, when the non-profit’s founder Dominique de Menil announced that the Óscar Romero Award would go to individuals or organizations in recognition of heroic efforts in the area of human rights. The Chapel recently announced the honorees on the day that marked 35 years since Romero was assassinated.
Honorees Miriam Miranda and Berta Caceres are both Afro-Caribbean and indigenous rights activists in Honduras. They will each receive a $20,000 gift in recognition of their courageous, grassroots human rights advocacy. Miranda serves as executive director of Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, a group that works to protect the land, cultural and civil rights of 47 indigenous Garifuna communities. Caceres serves as general coordinator of Consejo Civil de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras. She has been working for the last 20 years in defense of the rights of campesino (peasant farmers) and indigenous Lenca descendant communities.
The awardees will be honored at a public ceremony at the Chapel on Thursday, Nov. 12. In the weeks leading up to the award ceremony, the Rothko Chapel will present a series of programs that investigate Afro-Caribbean and indigenous human rights and the perils of advocating for those rights in the face of enormous economic and political pressures.
Events will include a film screening on International Day of Peace, Monday, Sept. 21, and a talk by Kerry Kennedy, human rights activist and writer, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, on Thursday, Oct. 8.
“We are thrilled to be able to honor these two incredible women, who have already given so much of their head and heart,” the Chapel’s interim executive director Claudia Horwitz said. “Oscar Romero was a champion for the rights of poor people and fought fearlessly despite grave risk. Miriam Miranda and Berta Caceres exhibit the same courage and tireless efforts.”
The Rothko Chapel has two vocations: contemplation and action. Not only does it serve as a space for religious ceremonies of all faiths, the Chapel also hosts programs and events in support of important causes concerning human rights, peace, freedom, and social justice.
In its 40 years, the Chapel has achieved recognition as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the second half of the 20th century. In 2001 the Chapel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Chapel regularly makes top ten lists of places to visit and is a featured entry in National Geographic’s “Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations,” published in 2009.
Visitors from around the world visit the sacred space to meditate and reflect, as they gaze at the tremendous paintings by Mark Rothko – or when they step outside to view Barnett Newman’s powerful sculpture Broken Obelisk, which stands in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.