- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - A center that focuses on heroes of freedom said Tuesday that two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Lech Walesa of Poland and the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa, will be honored with awards.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center said the two have been named International Freedom Conductors, with their awards to be presented Aug. 23 in Cincinnati.

The center said Mandela’s great-grandson and representatives of the Nelson Mandela Foundation will accept the award for the anti-apartheid leader and South African president, who died Dec. 5 at age 95.

Walesa, the leader of Poland’s Solidarity movement that challenged communism in the 1980s before he became the country’s president, plans to attend the celebration that will be part of the center’s 10th anniversary.

The award is “a great honor for an electrician and revolutionary from Gdansk,” Walesa said in a statement. “This honor, however, also awards all those who joined in the non-violent revolution over 30 years ago.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s chief executive, Sello Hatang, said it is pleased to accept on behalf of Mandela, “whose legacy for freedom and social justice inspires us to continue his long walk.”

Previous winners have included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

The center focuses on heroes of freedom including those who helped 19th century escaping slaves.

“The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is humbled to honor two revolutionary freedom fighters who truly changed the faces of their nations,” center president Clarence Newsome said in a statement. “And much like the freedom conductors of the Underground Railroad, the legacy of their lives’ work continues to inspire us today.”

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