Last night, the Freedom Forum Institute and Newseum presented the 2019 Free Expression Awards, which recognized individuals for their courageous acts of, and contributions to, free and fearless expression.
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Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than four decades of covering politics at NBC, CNN and PBS. In 2013, Woodruff and the late Gwen Ifill were named the first two women to co-anchor a national news broadcast.
Co-hosts of “Queer Eye” — Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness — received an award for their work on the popular Netflix series, which has fostered an open dialogue on gender identity, sexuality, race, mental health and more. The “Fab Five” have brought visibility to the LGBTQ community and have inspired larger conversations on gay rights and culture, the value of self-care, diversity and acceptance and challenges of prejudice. “We have a platform like no other right now. I see the responsibility that we have and we don’t take it for granted,” said fashion expert Tan France.
Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘me too.’ movement, accepted the inaugural Power Shift Award, which recognized the activist for her important advocacy focused on the intersection of sexual violence and racial justice. Burke’s commitment to ending systemic inequality embodies the goals of the Freedom Forum Institute’s Power Shift Project, which seeks to create workplaces free of harassment, discrimination and incivility, and full of opportunity, especially for those who have traditionally been denied it. Burke is also a graduate of the Diversity Institute in Tennessee, a program led by First Amendment Center founder John Seigenthaler. “Hashtags aren’t movements; they’re tools…movements take time…Our work is about healing and action. Period,” said Burke during her award acceptance.
Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Award winner Ava DuVernay was also honored. DuVernay is known for directorial work, which includes the Oscar-winning historical drama “Selma,” as well as the Oscar-nominated criminal justice documentary “13th” and Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” which made her the highest-grossing African-American woman director in domestic box office history.
Additional award recipients included CBS News foreign correspondents Elizabeth Palmer, Debora Patta and Holly Williams. Their international reportage has spanned the globe and covered powerful topics including the Syrian civil war, Ebola outbreaks, Boko Haram, 9/11 and the siege of Aleppo. These women have interviewed major political and advocacy figureheads including Malala Yousafzai, Vladimir Putin, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Slahi and others.
The recipients of the fourth annual Free Expression Awards have worked tirelessly to enhance free speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom and freedom in the arts and entertainment.
Together, they represent the ways in which individuals committed to the principles of free expression and the First Amendment can create meaningful change and lasting impact.