LGBTQ+ Rights and Immigration Activist Edafe Okporo to Be Honored with American Heritage Award

June 13, 2022
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June 13, 2022

WASHINGTON—The American Immigration Council will honor global LGBTQ+ rights activist and founder of Refuge America, Edafe Okporo, with its American Heritage Award on Friday, June 17 at the Javits Center in New York.

The award recognizes the talents, contributions, and accomplishments of immigrants and their advocates and will be presented during an interactive arts celebration that highlights notable immigrants, national heroes, and unsung heroes like immigration lawyers.

Okporo was born in Warri, Nigeria. He migrated to the United States in 2016 as an asylum seeker and is now a refugee of the United States. He is one of the country’s most visible voices on the issue of displacement, with an organization that works to strengthen America as a place of welcome for displaced LGBTQ+ people.

“Edafe Okporo has allowed his experience as a Black gay immigrant to inspire change and build solutions to create a diverse and beautiful world. He has dedicated himself to making an urgent call to action for immigration justice and shown personal commitment to strengthening America by helping immigrants and displaced LGBTQ+ people rebuild their lives,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council. “This year we are thrilled to honor Edafe Okporo for his heroic journey and for choosing a path to raise awareness around immigrant LGBTQ+ rights and creating welcoming communities for immigrants. By honoring him, we hope to highlight the critical role immigration plays in bringing energy, skills, and solutions that benefit all Americans.”

Okporo is also the author of “ASYLUM: A Memoir and Manifesto,” which recounts his experience as a gay man in Nigeria, fleeing to the United States, and navigating the U.S. immigration system—which included spending six months in a detention center and being released without any support.

“Every year millions of displaced people arrive at the borders of the United States seeking protection. I was one of them a few years ago. To be honored with the American Heritage Award means a lot to me, and is a push to keep on fighting for a better world. The American Heritage Award represents what America stands for: ‘celebrating the courage and resilience it requires to make a difference,’” said Edafe Okporo, global LGBTQ+ rights activist and founder of Refuge America.

Okporo is a graduate of Enugu State University and Masters graduate of the School of Professional Studies at New York University.

In years past, the American Immigration Council has recognized the achievements of other outstanding immigrants and their advocates, including Carlos Santana, General Colin Powell, Sonia Nazario, and Edwidge Danticat.

The American Heritage Award ceremony will also feature art exhibits from the 2022 New American Fellows Program which supports immigrant artists who explore how all humans are connected on a fundamental level. Each fellow has interpreted the American Immigration Council’s research using their unique perspective with the goal of sparking crucial dialogue. 


For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council at [email protected] or 202-507-7526.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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