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NAACP Head Ben Jealous Wins 2012 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship
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Benjamin Todd Jealous Announced as Winner of the
2012 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship

Prize Recognizes NAACP’s Leadership In Civil and Human Rights Movement; Efforts to “Rebrand” Civil Rights for a New Era


November 15, 2012 (New York, NY): The Nation Institute and The Puffin Foundation announced today that Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will receive the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. This prestigious award will be presented to Jealous on Monday, December 3, 2012 at The Nation Institute’s Annual Dinner Gala in New York City.  

The Puffin Foundation and The Nation Institute co-sponsor this annual award, given to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, and socially responsible work of significance. Recipients are drawn from a broad range of occupations and pursuits, including academia, journalism, public health, literature, art, the environmental sciences, labor, and the humanities. The prize is intended to encourage the recipients to continue their work, and to inspire others to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies they face in their careers.

Jealous is receiving the award for his unwavering dedication to civil and human rights. As the youngest person to lead the NAACP, Jealous has invigorated civil rights by building new alliances across progressive communities. Under his leadership, the NAACP has taken on an array of the most pressing issues of our time: inequity in opportunity and education, climate change, supporting marriage equality, fighting to save the life of Troy Davis, and ending the death penalty. The NAACP has worked tirelessly to expand and protect the franchise, registering thousands upon thousands of voters while fighting voter suppression efforts at every turn.

Perry Rosenstein, President of The Puffin Foundation Ltd., the co-sponsor of the Creative Citizenship award, said “Benjamin Todd Jealous, President of the NAACP, is bringing creativity and estimable energy to this oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, death row to the Supreme Court, Jealous is a front-line fighter of justice and equality, and a visionary who sees the interconnected nature of all kinds of human rights struggles. Benjamin Todd Jealous has not simply answered the call to lead, he is inspiring us. We are proud to honor him with the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship.”


During his tenure, the NAACP's online activists have swelled from 175,000 to more than 600,000; its donors have increased from 16,000 individuals per year to more than 120,000; and its membership has increased three years in a row for the first time in more than 20 years.

“I’m humbled to be recognized with The Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship and honored to join a distinguished list of past honorees, all of whom have inspired me with their enduring commitment to justice and human rights,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. "Our work carries on the legacy of the tremendous visionaries who founded the NAACP — with the support of The Nation — more than a century ago. I am proud to stand on their shoulders, along with thousands of NAACPers and our allies, in the fight for racial equality, human rights, and a brighter tomorrow for all Americans.”
Over past two decades, Jealous has helped organize successful campaigns to abolish the death penalty for minors, stop Mississippi's governor from turning a historically Black university into a prison, and pass federal legislation against prison rape. Before joining the NAACP, his investigative journalism at the Jackson Advocate was credited with helping save the life of a white inmate who was being threatened for helping convict corrupt prison guards, free a Black small farmer who was being framed for arson, and spur official investigations into law enforcement corruption.

As President of the NAACP, Jealous has opened national programs on education, health, and environmental justice. He has also greatly increased the organization's capacity to work on issues related to the economy and register and mobilize voters.
“I am proud to see President Jealous' innovative leadership honored by The Nation Institute and The Puffin Foundation," said NAACP National Board Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “One hundred and three years ago the NAACP set out with a goal to fundamentally change American society —and we succeeded. We look forward to another century of game-changing advocacy, and Ben will help get us there."

Jealous plans to use the prize money for a college fund for his own children, as well as De'Jaun Davis-Correia, the nephew of Troy Davis.

Andy Breslau, President of The Nation Institute and co-sponsor of The Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, said that “moral clarity, sophisticated strategic thinking and being an effective tactician don't often come in one package, but Benjamin Todd Jealous shows that sometimes they can. During his tenure as President of the NAACP, Ben's work against voter suppression efforts, for justice in the Troy Davis case, and many others, as well his standing tall in the fight for marriage equality have sent a signal that the NAACP is a contemporary force to be reckoned with. For representing leadership in the never ending battle for justice and exemplifying the best of a new generation of fighters for equality, we are thrilled to bestow The Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship to Benjamin Todd Jealous."

Jealous is the 13th winner of the award. Previous winners are playwright Tony Kushner; Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards; environmental activists and authors Van Jones and Bill McKibben; former Texas State agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower; human rights lawyer Michael Ratner; Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman; educator and author Jonathan Kozol; journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich; professor and anti-death penalty advocate David Protess; labor activist Dolores Huerta; and civil rights pioneer Robert Parris Moses.

About The Puffin Foundation


Since its founding in 1983, The Puffin Foundation has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy. The puffin, a species whose nesting sites were endangered by encroaching civilization, were encouraged to return to their native habitats through the constructive efforts of a concerned citizenry. The Foundation adopted the name Puffin as a metaphor for how it sees its mission, which is to ensure that the arts continue to grow and enrich our lives.

About The Nation Institute
A nonprofit media center, The Nation Institute was established to extend the reach of progressive ideas and strengthen the independent press. Its dynamic range of programs include a bestselling book publishing imprint, Nation Books
<http://www.nationbooks.org/> ; an award-winning Investigative Fund <http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/> , which supports groundbreaking investigative journalism; the widely read and syndicated website TomDispatch <http://www.tomdispatch.com/> ; an internship program <http://www.nationinstitute.org/p/internships> at The Nation magazine; and Journalism Fellowships <http://www.nationinstitute.org/fellows> that fund up to 20 high-profile reporters every year. Work produced by The Nation Institute has sparked Congressional hearings, new legislation, FBI investigations, and the resignation of government officials, has changed the debate, and has a regular impact on the most urgent social and political issues of our day.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2012
CONTACT: Diana Lee, diana@berlinrosen.com
<mailto:diana@berlinrosen.com> , 646-200-5322


###

 
TIFF Opening Night Gala
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Gladys Miller Rosenstein (Executive Director, Puffin Foundation, Ltd.), Jeremy Lentz (Executive Director of TIFF) and Perry Rosenstein (President, Puffin Foundation, Ltd.) at the opening night gala of the Teaneck International Film Festival, a project of the Puffin Foundation, Ltd.

Photo by Jeremy Smith via mybergen.com

 
Special Peace Train Youth Summit - Sharon Katz & The Peace Train
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International Performers Visit Teaneck & Englewood
Sharon Katz & The Peace Train - South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors
November 29th & 30th, 2012 give workshops to students in our schools
AND
Special Peace Train Youth Summit
7pm Friday November 30th at Puffin Cultural Forum

Sharon Katz, founder of The Peace Train in South Africa in 1992, mounted a countrywide tour around South Africa by train, shortly after the release of Nelson Mandela from South African prisons, and before his election as President of South Africa in 1994. She tours the world teaching Peace & Reconciliation and the anti-bullying messages contained in this historic and triumphant story.
Teaneck’s Puffin Foundation, Ltd. has invited Sharon Katz and her singing partner Wendy Quick, to present workshops on South African music, dance, history and culture at Grieco Elementary School in Englewood NJ, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin Middle Schools in Teaneck NJ on November 29th and 30th. 2012 Their educational workshops will culminate in a presentation at the Puffin Cultural Forum on 7pm on Friday, November 30th.
The Peace Train Youth Summit performance will feature students from the three schools who have participated in the workshops. Students will present songs and dances of South Africa with Sharon Katz & The Peace Train and they will also have an opportunity to express their ideas and hopes for a peaceful world.

The presentation at the Puffin Cultural Forum is free of charge.
Kindly reserve your seats by phoning 201-836-3499
Puffin Cultural Forum is located at 20 Puffin Way, Teaneck, New Jersey. www.puffinculturalforum.org
Since seating is limited reservations will be on a first come first served basis.
For More Information about The Peace Train please visit:
www.SharonKatz.com
We look forward to meeting you!

 

 
Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner For Perry & Gladys Rosenstein
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In the spirit of community, we have postponed the Bergen Museum of Art & Science Lifetime Achievement Award dinner so that our guests and supporters can recover from the recent storm with their families and friends.

New Date : Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012 at the Il Villaggio in Carlstadt, NJ
Tickets are $100 in advance. To purchase tickets online: www.thebergenmuseum.com/awardsdinner.htm

 
Puffin President & Executive Director Honored for work...
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The Bergen Museum of Art & Science 2012 Life Time Achievement Award in the Arts recipients are Perry Rosenstein and Gladys Rosenstein in recognition of their accomplishments fostering the arts and culture in Bergen County.

The award commemorates and acknowledges the Rosenstein’s life time body of work enriching the community through their remarkable gifts, their work establishing public private partnerships and nurturing the growth of cultural capital.

The award will be presented on Wednesday, 6:00 PM November 28 followed by a 4 course dinner and champagne toast at Il Villaggio’s Restaurant located at 651 Route 17 North, Carlstadt, NJ 07072.

Tickets are $100 and can be purchased online at: thebergenmuseum.com/awardsdinner or call James Waldron at 201-618-3077

 
Int'l Day of Peace Celebration
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Dear Friends:


You are invited to join us and other members of the Teaneck community who are lovers of Peace, on Friday, September 21st at 4P.M.as we walk 2 miles from the Puffin Foundation Ltd in Teaneck to the United Methodist Church in Leonia. The program at the Puffin Foundation Ltd. starts at 4 P.M. with speakers in front of the peace pole that was placed there in 2011. At 5 P.M. those who are able will walk to the peace pole in Leonia and others will drive. Arriving around 6 P.M.. we will join with the Leonia community in celebrating the United Nations International Day of Peace which will conclude at 7 P.M. We will have rides available for the walkers to get back to their cars in Teaneck.

The walk will begin from the Puffin Foundation parking lot after a short ceremony led by Jules Orkin, to the United Methodist Church at 391 Broad Ave., at the corner of Woodbridge and Broad Ave in Leonia. The walk is 2 miles (partly up hill) with the option to walk 1.3 miles (with no hill) to Overpeck parking lot. Please register if you plan to walk all or part of the way. Contact Jules Orkin at 201-566-8403. Directions to the Puffin Foundation can be found at www.puffinculturalforum.org.

The International day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations general assembly. In 2001, the UN established September 21 as an annual day of non-violence.

In 1976 the idea of placing the peace message and prayer on poles started. To date over 100,000 peace poles have been dedicated in over 190 countries around the world.

Sponsors of this walk to date are:
Puffin Foundation Ltd,
New Jersey Peace Action
Veteran’s for Peace Chapter 21,
Military Families Speak out,
Teaneck Vigil
Occupy Bergen County

Sincerely,
Perry Rosenstein, President
Gladys Miller Rosenstein, Executive Director
Neal Rosenstein, Vice President
Jules Orkin, Puffin Peace Fellow
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH.


 

Puffin and Community Celebrates International Peace Day
On September 21, the U.N. International Day of Peace, the Puffin Foundation celebrated its second year as a participating member of the International Peace Pole Organization. A group of peace activists met in front of the Foundation building. Representatives from the Puffin Foundation NJ Peace Action, Veteran's for Peace, Chapter 21, Military Families Speak Out, Teaneck Vigil, Occupy Bergen County, and the Teaneck Board of Education spoke of the importance of working for peace. The group then began their three mile walk, led by Jules Orkin, the Puffin Peace Fellow, to join the Leonia Peace Activist for a ceremony at the United Methodist Church on Broad St. in Leonia.

Perry Rosenstein, President of the Puffin Foundation

Jules Orkin, Puffin Peace Fellow

 
Brian Lehrer Show Looks for Your Input on Activist New York
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The Brian Lehrer Show is featuring photos from the Activist NY exhibit and looking for your comments.  The exhibit is in the new Puffin Foundation Gallery at the Museum of the City of NY.  Take a look.

The Museum of the City of New York has a new exhibit, “Activist New York”, exploring the rich history of how New Yorkers push for change. We’ll post a few a week for the next few weeks. Share them widely and tell us what you notice about these images and what they tell you about New York’s activist history. See more here: http://www.mcny.org/exhibitions/current/Activist-New-York.html

 

 
ALBA-Puffin Human Rights Award for 2012: New Yorker
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The New Yorker

News Desk

Notes on Washington and the world by the staff of The New Yorker

June 9, 2012

The Documents and the Murderers

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alba-puffin-465.jpg

How do you bring tolerance and democracy to a country in which a murderous military, which over the years killed some two hundred thousand of its own citizens, is effectively still in power? You hold elections—sure, elected governments are a good place to start—but what about the past, the brutal back-story? What about a country in which forty-five thousand of the murdered simply disappeared? Do you turn the page, or do you insist on an accounting? And if so, how?

These questions ran through discussions at the Museum of the City of New York recently, both before and after the Puffin Foundation—an arts and human-rights organization—and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), an educational organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the American volunteers to the Republican side of the Spanish civil war, gave their hundred-thousand dollar Human Rights Award to Kate Doyle and Fredy Peccerelli, two activists working in Guatemala, the country in question.

The Puffin/ALBA award is perhaps the world’s largest human-rights award. Last year—its initial year—it was given to Baltasar Garzón, the embattled Spanish judge and champion of transnational justice. Sebastiaan Faber, professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin, and chairman of the Board of Governors of ALBA, called Doyle and Peccerelli “brave, persistent, and innovative.”

Doyle, a document expert who worked with the National Security Archive in Washington, has spent many years working with a surprising trove of documents that had been considered lost. In 1997, as part of the peace accords, the Guatemalan National Police was disbanded—peace negotiators considered them to be so deeply implicated in the violence that a new force should be established from scratch. In 2005, a routine inspection of a complex of abandoned buildings turned up the complete archives of the disbanded police force—some eighty million pages in all—which detailed the surveillance, detention, torture, and disposition of numerous victims.

When first discovered, Doyle says, “it was a horrifying graveyard of documents. Windows were broken. Bats, rats, and cockroaches were everywhere. Mold was everywhere.” Seven years later, workers funded by the U.N.’s Transitional Justice Program have scanned and organized fourteen million pages. To Doyle, the most notable outcome of the project is the degree to which it is “shifting what we know about the war and helping Guatemalan society as a whole to rethink and reconstruct what they know about the violence.”

The documents made possible the 2011 conviction of two police agents for the kidnapping, in 1984, of a labor activist, Edgar Fernando García. García’s remains have never been found, but based on evidence of the two policemen’s involvement in the kidnapping, they were sentenced to forty years each. The courts have now also indicted their superior officers.

Doyle told me that at the trial, former colleagues of García’s came out and openly testified about their membership in the Guatemalan Communist Party. “Everyone was surprised at people’s willingness to discuss such things,” Doyle said. “That’s completely new in Guatemala. All these developments have allowed a completely new national debate to take place.”

She has also testified at trials, and on two different occasions has been the recipient of documents that she was told would endanger anyone who had them in their possession in Guatemala. One of these, which she was handed just before boarding a plane to the United States, was “Plan Sofia,” a record of the military’s scorched-earth strategy for the Ixil Maya region. “It showed a chain stretching from Army high command to commanders on the ground and then reports from units on the ground back up to the top command,” Doyle said. “It was a rigid hierarchy, and it documents the burning of villages, the killings of civilians and of their animals, and the bombing of civilian refugees.”

Plan Sofia proved to be a central piece of evidence against Efraín Ríos Montt, an evangelical Christian Army general who, in 1982, seized power and then presided over the most violent period of Guatemala’s history. The truth commission set up after the peace accords found that ninety-three per cent of Guatemala’s violence was committed by state-security forces or allied paramilitaries, and that fully eighty per cent of the victims were Maya Indians. In 2008, after finding evidence that that Ríos Montt was informed, through his chain of command, that thousands of unarmed Maya were being killed, Spain’s National Court, the same court in which Baltasar Garzón once sat, ordered arrest warrants for Ríos Montt and seven others on charges of genocide. Ríos Montt was saved from extradition by an act of Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, but in 2012, Guatemala was stunned when one of its own courts indicted Ríos Montt of the same genocide charges—using much the same logic. “The extermination of the civilian population,” the judge, Carol Patricia Flores, wrote in her opinion, “was the result of military plans and those plans were executed under the command of Ríos Montt.”

Fredy Peccerelli, Doyle’s co-honoree, runs the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, an organization he founded in 1997 and which, since then, has done fourteen hundred and fifty excavations (initially for the truth commission, and later for prosecutors) and discovered the remains of some sixty-five hundred victims. He sees the foundation more as a scientific organization than as a human-rights organization. “We provide evidence to the justice system,” he told me. “How the victims died, how they were killed. We find ballistics, ropes tied around feet and necks.” He also sees part of what he’s accomplishing as rewriting history through science. “What happened in the conflict isn’t taught in schools, and we hope that all this will be used to educate people as to what happened.” He regularly receives death threats, and drives himself and his kids around in a bulletproof car with a permanent police bodyguard.

In the most recent election—November of last year—the winning Presidential candidate was Otto Pérez Molina, a retired general who campaigned on the promise to crack down on crime with a mano duro—an iron fist. Pérez Molina has an independent streak—he was a member of the military faction that, in the nineties, favored negotiations with the guerrillas. His own family has been subject to kidnapping attempts, and he has come out in favor of drug legalization as a way of dealing with Guatemala’s role as a transit point for narcotics bound for the United States. But during the war he held a significant command in the Ixil Maya region of Quiche province, a region where some of the worst massacres, disappearances, and human-rights abuses of the war took place. Of the excavated remains of massacre victims in the Ixil region, thirty-five per cent are children.

Peccerelli points out that Pérez Molina won by only three hundred and fifty thousand votes, and that his strongest demographic was urban eighteen-to-twenty-five-year-olds: “They don’t know the past; they don’t know about the violence.”

Coincident with the election of Pérez Molina—and potentially at odds with it—Guatemala is also experiencing a ground swell of demand for justice for human-rights abuses committed during the violence. In late 2010, Claudia Paz y Paz was appointed Attorney General, and has proceeded fearlessly against a variety of wrongdoers. She has prosecuted casino previously untouchable narco-traffickers, and even the sister-in-law of the President who appointed her. Most remarkable, however, has been her willingness to undertake a number of highly sensitive cases from the years of violence.

One that had languished for years was her successful prosecution of five officers from Guatemala’s feared special forces, the Kaibiles, for their roles in the 1982 massacre of two hundred and one citizens—including women and children—from the remote farming town of Dos Erres. (Pro Publica ran a piece on the case, as did This American Life.) The Kaibiles were deeply feared for their savagery. The new President, Pérez Molina, was not just a Kaibil officer himself, but ran one of their training camps. He has appointed a former Kaibil colleague as Minister of Defense, and put the Kaibiles themselves in charge of the fight against narco-trafficking; a number of Kaibil veterans have, meanwhile, gone on to become members of the Zetas, the Mexican drug gang, which has a significant presence in Guatemala.

Peccerelli’s D.N.A. identifications played a crucial courtroom role in the Dos Erres trial, which ended with the convicted officers receiving sentences of six thousand and sixty years each—thirty years for each victim, plus thirty years for crimes against humanity. In August of 2011, on the day after the verdict, he was driving in downtown Guatemala City with the forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow when a car pulled up next to his. A man wielding a knife stepped out and slashed his tire. Peccerelli managed to escape into a parking garage. A few days later, a letter showed up at his sister’s house, which said that he’d pay for “every one of the 6,060 years. The tire was nothing. Next time it will be your face. We know where your family works and where your kids go to school. We’re going to cut you into pieces.” The letter went on to accurately document where all the witnesses who’d testified in the trial had been on a certain day.

Doyle and Peccerelli agree that what’s ultimately most important are not the legal cases but the sense of release for the families of the victims. Speaking of the police archives, Doyle describes families who come looking for records of their loved ones. “They spend days searching the archives for surveillance records, photos, and press clips,” she told me. Peccerelli sees part of what he does as the “dignification” of the victims and their families. “They come to us saying that their loved ones didn’t do anything to die that way,” he said.

Peccerelli has his own Guatemalan history. His father was a champion weightlifter who, during the 1980 Olympics, was president of the Guatemalan Weightlifting Federation. He was, as Peccerelli puts it, a high-school revolutionary, “one of many, many Guatemalans who believed in Leftist ideals but didn’t believe in taking up arms.” But when he returned from the Olympics, his friends were being killed, and he began receiving death threats. Eventually, when Peccerelli was nine, the family fled to the Bronx, where they initially lived a block and a half from Yankee Stadium (turning Peccerelli into a life-long Yankee fan), and later to Brooklyn. Peccerelli distanced himself from Guatemala but, after graduation from Brooklyn College, he developed a vague interest in archaeology. He went to a meeting of the American Anthropological Association which, that year, had a human-rights theme. “I’d never heard the term ‘human rights’ but I heard a lecture by Clyde Snow and saw his slides of unearthing mass graves, and it was as if I’d been hit by lightning.” He went back, and ended up staying. One of his sons is now the catcher for the Guatemalan national baseball team.

Photograph: Courtesy ALBA

Read the original article at newyorker.com

 
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