Hawah Kasat, co-founder and executive director of One Common Unity (OCU), is the recipient of Georgetown University’s 17th annual John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award.
The award, which goes to an inspirational, emerging international or local leader who exemplifies the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will be given during The Let Freedom Ring! celebration Monday, Jan. 21, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Kasat’s OCU program, founded in 2000 following a string of school shootings in D.C., consists of yoga, spoken word, peace education, art and specially-designed workshops. The program focuses on social justice by incorporating peace education, arts and music.
“There are clear barriers in achieving our true potential, so violence prevention became an important calling in my life,” Kasat said. “It was something that I also saw as a solution to some of the other problems in society.”
The evening will feature award-winning artists Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Georgetown said it chose Kasat for the award because of his “commitment to service and transformational change.” Under Kasat’s leadership, OCU has provided 15 D.C. middle and high schools with peace education and its Fly By Light program, which aims to guide youths away from violence and poverty.
“I believe empathy, compassion, cooperation and kindness can be taught,” said Kasat, who has taken his approach to nonviolence to more than 42 countries. “We start with modeling nonviolent behavior and then create safe spaces for dialogue and healing through restorative justice circles.”
Free tickets for the Let Freedom Ring fete, which began in 2003 as a joint program presented by the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University, will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the entrance to the center’s Hall of Nations, beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event. Tickets are limited to two per person.