Judy Ancel accepting the Joe Hill Award.

Every year the Labor Heritage Foundation awards the Joe Hill Award at the Great Labor Arts Exchange. The Joe Hill Award honors leaders and artists who have contributed to the successful integration of arts and culture in the labor movement. Every year at the Great Labor Arts Exchange, the Labor Heritage Foundation gives the award to individuals based on their dedication, participation, and promotion of labor, labor arts, culture, organizing, and/or history. The Labor Heritage Foundation has presented this annual lifetime achievement award for work in the field of labor culture since 1989.

The 2022 recipient of the Joe Hill Award is Kansas City’s own Judy Ancel, an ever-present figure in the Kansas City labor community. Ancel has dedicated her life to the causes of labor and has worked in a wide variety of roles to benefit everyday people. Judy Ancel is president of the Cross Border Network, a Kansas City-based organization that supports human rights in Latin America and exposes how U.S. foreign policy drives the dislocation and migration of poor people. She is a retired labor educator who directed the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s labor education program for 29 years. Perhaps most impactful, she has produced the Heartland Labor Forum show on Kansas City Community Radio for over three decades.

Previous recipients of the award include: Cesar Chavez, Pete Seeger, Moe Foner, John Handcox, Emmanuel Fried, Ralph Fasanella, Joyce Kornbluh, Anne Romaine, Archie Green, Joe Glazer, and numerous others.

“The Joe Hill Award was certainly an honor I never hoped to receive. It’s really an honor for Kansas City labor and KKFI who for 33 years have supported the Heartland Labor Forum. We’ve had dozens of union members, retirees, and union wannabes volunteer, learn the skills of radio programing – both as journalists and technicians. They always showed up on time. They did their research, and they educated and entertained our community about unions, the economy and politics, and the value of labor. I am very grateful to the Labor Heritage Foundation for this award and to the many cultural workers, musicians, artists, actors and writers who have carried on in the tradition of Joe Hill. If you don’t know who Joe Hill was or the Labor Heritage Foundation and its Great Labor Arts Exchange where I was presented with the award, go to laborheritage.org and laborheritage.org/art-exhibition,” said Judy Ancel.

The Joe Hill Award pictured from the front.

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