The Red Bandana Fund, which honors the memory of Richard Walton, has chosen Artemis Moonhawk, Sarath Suong and the Providence Youth Student Movement as winners of the 2016 Red Bandana Awards.
Artremis Moonhawk, also known as Mama Dreads, founded the Mama Dreads Mission of Love, a grassroots organization that helps the homeless.
Sarath Suong is co-founder and executive director of the Providence Youth Student Movement, which mobilizes the Southeast Asian communities and Providence youth to stand up against injustice. Most recently, the organization launched the Community Defense Project to provide low-cost legal help and counseling for police brutality victims.
``Choosing this year’s awardees was tough,’’ said Bill Harley, president of the Red Bandana Fund. ``There were many nominations of amazing individuals and groups, each one deserving recognition. Artremis and Sarath represent all of the people working to make a better life for us here in the Rhode Island area. Those of us who remember and were close with Richard Walton know he would approve.’’
Walton, who died in 2012, was a veteran journalist, writer, teacher, political, peace and social justice activist who dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate and advocating for a better and more peaceful world. A Brown University grad, Walton was also an adjunct professor at Rhode Island College who was a leader of the union that represented part-time professors. And he ran for vice-president on the Citizens Party national ticket in 1984.
A burly man with a white Santa Claus beard, Richard often dressed in his trademark red bandana and blue denim overalls. The fund takes its name from his bandana.
Walton was a beloved man who loved sports, especially the Boston Red Sox and Celtics, music, politics, softball, food, travel and journalism. Each year in June Walton hosted a huge gathering at his home in Pawtuxet Village that drew hundreds of his diverse group of friends, as well as politicians he liked, including Gov. Linc Chafee.
That event was also a fund-raiser for some of Walton’s favorite charities, especially Amos House, where he was a longtime volunteer. A warm and witty man, Richard took his causes, but not himself, seriously.
The awards will be presented at Nick-a-Nees bar in Providence, one of the many taverns where Walton shared an occasional lager and told stories, on June 5th, from 4 to 7 p.m. Nick’s is located at 75 South Street in the city’s jewelry District near the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. There will be performances by the Chris Monti Band and the Extraordinary Rendition Band, according to Stephen Graham, another of Walton’s close friends who has worked to keep his memory alive.
If last year’s party is any indication, this year’s event is not to be missed. ``Last year’s party burst out onto the street with dancing,’’ recalled Harley. ``It was a true celebration of Richard, his words and spirit, and the people of Rhode Island who work to make the world a better, happier place.’’