Baltimore native and labor activist named MacArthur Fellow

Baltimore native and labor activist Greg Asbed has been named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, the so-called genius grant given annually to exceptionally talented people in a wide range of fields.

The honor comes with a $625,000 award that winners can use to advance their work and causes.

Asbed was one of 24 fellows announced Wednesday by the MacArthur Foundation.

While he grew up in Baltimore and earned a master’s degree at the Johns Hopkins University in 1990, Asbed became a human and worker rights activist in Florida, where he now resides.

He co-founded the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which fought labor injustices in the Florida tomato industry.

Asbed is working on a model to improve working conditions within the 21st-century labor market. His model works to ensure that human rights are respected in the workplace and that workers play a central role in establishing work condition standards and codes of conduct and have transparent channels for monitoring and enforcing those standards.

Typically, 20 to 30 MacArthur Fellows are selected each year.

Since 1981, 965 people have been named fellows. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Joyce Scott are other Baltimoreans who have received the honor in recent years.

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