ADL South Central combines fundraisers into one major event

The South Central region of the Anti-Defamation League is merging its two annual fundraisers into one main event, debuting on Oct. 4 as the Concert Against Hate, featuring the A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Awards and the Community Impact Awards.

This year’s Botnick honorees are Tulane University President Michael Fitts and retired Judge Robin Giarrusso. Big Freedia and Peyton Rose Michelle will receive the Community Impact award.

Big Freedia will be featured at the 7 p.m. concert at the Orpheum Theatre. A sponsor party and happy hour will be at 6 p.m. at the Orpheum’s Speak Easy. Tickets are $180 until Oct. 3, $75 for those under age 45. Sponsorships start at $2500.

The concert “represents the depth and breadth of ADL’s mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to ensure justice and fair treatment for all,” and the idea that in an age of “increasing hate, fear, and misinformation, sharing stories of hope is more necessary now than ever.”

The South Central region, based in New Orleans, covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Fitts became Tulane’s 15th president in 2014, repositioning the university as a world-class academic environment that fosters path-breaking interdisciplinary research, innovative teaching, and a holistic student experience. Each year, the incoming class sets new heights for academic qualifications and diversity.

The ADL stated that Fitts “recognizes that the hallmark of a great university is an equitable environment that supports and sustains diverse perspectives, and that such an environment is fundamental to advancing intellectual rigor, learning, and scholarship.” He has overseen an expansion of research, redevelopment of the downtown campus and large-scale capital projects Uptown.

Giarrusso was a judge on the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans from April 1988 to April 2023. She served as the court’s chief judge from 1998 to 2000. She was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to the State’s Judiciary Commission, and served as chair of the Commission during the last year of her appointment.

Giarrusso is a vice president of the local Section of the National Council of Jewish Women and is on the board of the Jewish Endowment Foundation. She is a member of the Downtown Rotary Club, past president of Temple Sinai, served as membership vice-president of the New Orleans Bar Association Inn of Court, was a board member of the Tulane Alumni Association, and was an assistant bar examiner. She has served on the board of the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Children’s Regional Service, the Pro-Bono Project, as vice president of the Newcomb College Alumnae Board, and as the class agent for the Newcomb College Class of 1974.

Giarrusso received the First Annual Michaelle Pitard Wynne Professionalism Award given by the Association for Women Attorneys, and the National Urban League Award for Distinguished Public Service. She also received the Pro Bono Project Distinguished Jurist Award in 2015.

In addition, Giarrusso has lectured on advocacy for people with physical disabilities. She is a former board member of Resources for Independent Living, Easter Seals and the Education and Support Program for Children’s Hospital. She was appointed by former Chief Justice Pascal Calogero to attend a national conference on the court related needs of persons with disabilities.

Big Freedia is a New Orleans musical icon, a pioneer in bounce music. The “Queen of Bounce” has expanded the booming sounds of Southern rap on a string of high-energy, twerk-inducing projects, while showcasing her inimitable charisma on blockbuster hits by Drake and Beyoncé.

“Bounce has been through many iterations — from Triggerman to Sissy to Cash Money Bounce — but my new single is something I call Bigga Bounce,” says Freedia, heralding this new chapter for the genre. “Welcome to ‘Central City,’ y’all, where I pay homage to my city, my roots, hip-hop, and to the art of creating a new sound.”

Big Freedia broke into television in 2013 with Fuse’s “Big Freedia Bounces Back,” released her memoir “Big Freedia: God Save The Queen Diva” in 2015, launched a cannabis line called Royal Bud in 2022, and is on track to open her very own Hotel Freedia in New Orleans in 2024.

Along with more upcoming new music, the Queen Diva is gearing up to launch a new original series, “Big Freedia Means Business,” which will explore her prolific entrepreneurial endeavors.

Big Freedia hopes her voice and platform as an unapologetically authentic artist will inspire, especially at a time when the rights of LGBTQ+ people are under constant attack. “We gotta keep pushing, and I hope this album speaks to my community and everyone who feels they don’t have a voice,” she said. “I am living proof of why you don’t let yourself get dragged down. We keep going. We keep fighting.”

Peyton Rose Michelle is a 25-year-old trans woman based in Lafayette, having been born and raised in Parks, by Breaux Bridge. She serves as the first executive director of Louisiana Trans Advocates, where she leads LTA’s legislative initiatives and helps lead Legislative Organizing Coalition for All LGBTQ+ Louisianans, which LTA co-founded.

She also became the first openly transgender person to be elected in the state of Louisiana in July 2020, gaining a seat on the Democratic State Central Committee, winning the vote in the 46th district, a conservative rural area outside of Lafayette.