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March 15, 2001


LA CROSSE, Wis.—Minneapolis-based singer and songwriter Larry Long will receive the Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service April 3 in a ceremony to be held at Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wis.

The award is Viterbo’s most prestigious non-academic honor. Previous recipients include: Religious leaders Norman Vincent Peale, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin and Archbishop Rembert Weakland; Mideast hostage Martin Jenco; and journalist Charles Kuralt and athlete Bart Starr.

Long was selected on the basis of his unique contributions to humanity through outstanding service to our global community. And through music, he builds bridges.

Whether it's performing in the inner cities of Washington, D.C., developing a folk school in Nogales, Mexico, or singing for Mrs. Rosa Parks on the 45th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Larry Long is a different kind of artist and entertainer.

His work among the disparate and sometimes forgotten communities sets him apart. Having traveled the nation and the world for 30 years, Long celebrates the lives of working people in the almost 1,000 ballads he has written. His songs champion the bravery of the family farmer, Lakota Warriors, civil rights workers, and school cooks.

While still in his early 20s, Long wrote a song for farmers fighting a high voltage power line and traveled with a tractorcade of family farmers to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate for fair prices. It was then he met Pete Seeger, who inspired him to start a campaign to clean up the Mississippi River in the 1980s.

Long also assembled the first hometown tribute to Woody Guthrie. Through this project, Long discovered a love of teaching. He was soon hired to bring elders into classrooms throughout rural Alabama to develop an intergenerational process that mixes oral history, songwriting, and education to help children learn the history of their town. From this project emerged Community Celebration, an organization that brings children, elders, and people of different backgrounds together to celebrate commonality and difference in our communities.

No stranger to Viterbo, Long has played concerts at the university several times. It is one of the hundreds of schools he has worked with throughout the years.

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