Nobel Peace Prize nominations for 2022 were due on January 31 and some high-profile Texans are among the names submitted. Rep. Marc Veasey lead a group of members of Congress to nominate civil rights activist Opal Lee while Rep. Lizzie Fletcher nominated Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Dr. Peter Hotez.
Opal Lee, a native Texan, came to prominence for her decades-long campaign to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Juneteenth, short for June 19th, commemorates the anniversary of Union troops arriving in Galveston to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and end slavery in Texas. Lee’s efforts came to fruition on June 2021, when President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Lee, who is known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth,” was present for the signing.
“As a child, Opal Lee’s family home was attacked by a mob of white supremacists who vandalized and set the home on fire. This hate crime sparked a change in Ms. Lee and caused her to dedicate her life to teaching and advocating against white supremacy,” read the letter sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “The celebration of Juneteenth became for her not just a day to celebrate the freeing of enslaved people in Texas but the recognition of the need to uphold the freedoms that African Americans gained and a call to fight for equality for all humans.”
Veasey signed the letter along with 33 other members of Congress. Other signatories include Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Colin Allred as well as Sen. John Cornyn.
Fletcher nominated Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Dr. Peter Hotez, Deans of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-Directors of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, for their efforts to develop and distribute a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine. “Dr. Hotez and Dr. Bottazzi’s effort to develop the CORBEVAX vaccine is truly one of international cooperation and partnership to bring health, security, and peace around the world by creating a COVID-19 vaccine and making it available and accessible to all,” said Fletcher “It is a contribution that is of the greatest benefit to humankind.”
CORBEVAX uses old but proven technology and is easier to manufacture than most if not all other COVID-19 vaccines. It is also patent-free so other countries will be able to make their own doses.
“I am honored that Congresswoman Fletcher would nominate us for the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Hotez. “Dr. Bottazzi and I have worked together for years, and our purpose has never changed – to bring attention to the neglected diseases of poverty and build a new generation of vaccine in the pursuit of global vaccine diplomacy.”
We have a team of scientists that have worked diligently for years to bring appropriate and affordable health technologies to those who have been overlooked around the world,” said Bottazzi. “When the COVID pandemic hit, we wanted to make a difference and had great confidence our coronavirus vaccine technology, previously developed, could lead to a global solution. Hopefully, it will be game-changing for many countries.”
As members of a national legislature, both Veasey and Fletcher are among the select group of people who can nominate someone for a Nobel Peace Prize.
The full list of Nobel Peace Prize nominees won’t be released for 50 years but some names are already public. Other nominees include environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, and NATO