The late Berry headed up the Urban League from 1956 to 1972, and the award is given to individuals like Jackson who make a mark on the nation, and Chicago, through hard work, perseverance and creativity, said Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Urban League.
"We believe a strong African-American community helps empower Chicago," she said.
Past recipients of the award include actresses Cicely Tyson and Phylicia Rashad; Linda Johnson Rice, chairwoman of Johnson Publishing Company; Holocaust survivor and Chicago civil rights activist Hank Schwab; the late Rev. Addie Wyatt, a civil rights leader; and James Compton, who headed up the Urban League from 1972 to 2006.
"Certainly Rev. Jackson fits the bill of a modern civil rights leader. He has and continues to work tirelessly for equality for all and to help end racism in America," Zopp said. "His leadership has been an example for everyone to follow when it comes to uplifting and encouraging a society to do better."
The dinner begins with a reception at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. Tickets can be bought online for the event, which Zopp estimated will draw 1,700 people.
The event is also the civil rights organization's biggest fundraiser. Last year it raised $2 million, and Zopp said the target this year is to raise at least that.
"Monies raised from the dinner go to support our programs," Zopp said. "That's why it's important to get everyone involved and to get executives like E. Scott Santi [president and CEO of Illinois Tool Works] and Gregory Wasson [president and CEO of Walgreen Co.] as co-chairs of the event."
The Rev. Janette Wilson, a senior adviser to Jackson, who was unavailable for comment, said the 71-year-old founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, was delighted to be chosen for the award.
"Rev. Jackson considers his selection for this award to be a real honor," Wilson said. "Edwin Berry was one of Rev. Jackson's mentors and taught him a lot about the civil rights movement."