The Puffin Spotlight: Issue 14
April 21, 2023
It’s Award Season!
Each year, The Puffin Foundation funds or supports several awards that recognize the vision, leadership, and achievements of extraordinary people and organizations. As it happens, this year’s award ceremonies will all take place within the span of a month. Two of the events are open to the public. We hope you will enjoy reading about the recipients, to whom this issue of The Spotlight is dedicated. And if you are in the NYC area, please consider joining us in person. Details about each event are below.
The Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship
The Puffin Foundation, Ltd. and The Type Media Center (formerly The Nation Institute) are the mutual sponsors of The Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship, an annual award in the amount of $100,000 given to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, and socially responsible work of significance. 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. On 5/1/23, Heather Booth will be honored with this award.
Many people will recognize Booth from the HBO documentary “The Janes” about the pre-Roe underground abortion collective in Chicago which Booth founded when she was just 19. At the time, she had already been involved in the civil rights movement for years both in Chicago, where she attended college, and in Mississippi. She was also active in the “first wave” of feminism and in the anti-war movement, where she met her husband, Paul Booth, a leader in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Heather Booth became a labor organizer after entering the workforce, and after winning a case before the National Labor Relations Board, used the funds to found the Midwest Academy which taught grassroots community organizing, and then Citizen Action, a large coalition of activist groups. In the 80’s, she began moving into electoral politics and over the subsequent decades has worked on a myriad of campaigns for progressive candidates and reforms. She was the Director of the NAACP National Voter Fund and the training director for the National Democratic Committee and has headed up campaigns for health care, President Obama’s first budget, marriage equality, and financial reform. She established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and as director of Americans for Financial Reform, she played a key role in getting the Dodd-Frank Act passed. She is currently a consultant with Democracy Partners.
Updates on Past Puffin Prize Recipients
Since its inception in 2001, The Puffin Prize has been awarded to some truly remarkable people recognized not for singular achievements, but for ongoing dedication to their causes. Their work is a continual source of inspiration for us. Here are a couple of updates about one of the first recipients and one of the more recent ones.
The Know Your Rights Campaign was launched by Colin Kaepernick and his partner Nessa Diab in 2016. It began with “camps” that teach Black and Brown children “not just how to survive, but how to thrive.” In 2022, they announced a new project, The Autopsy Initiative, which provides free autopsies for victims of police violence upon request. These autopsies, conducted by board certified forensic pathologists, are intended to eliminate any doubts the victim’s loved ones may have about cause of death.
Dolores Huerta is best known for her landmark organizing of California farm workers with Cesar Chavez in the 1950s and ‘60’s but she has never stopped organizing and advocating, not just for farm workers and Latinas, but for all women (e.g. with Gloria Steinem and the Feminist Majority), for LGBTQ+ people, and for youth. Huerta and her daughter Camila used their 2002 Puffin Prize to found the Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing, now a multi-million dollar organization with a staff of nearly fifty. Huerta was recently featured in Apple TV’s show “Gutsy” based on Hilary and Chelsea’s Clinton’s The Book of Gutsy Women and interviewed by Latina Magazine.
The ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism
L to R: Nicole Martin, Malia Luarkie, and Rachael Lorenzo, founders of Indigenous Women Rising
One of the largest monetary awards for human rights in the world, The ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism is a $100,000 cash prize granted annually by The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) and The Puffin Foundation to honor the nearly 3,000 Americans who volunteered in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to fight fascism under the banner of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
The 2023 winner of this prestigious award is Indigenous Women Rising. IWR is an Indigenous-led full-spectrum reproductive justice organization. They help Indigenous families pay for and access abortion care, menstrual hygiene, culturally sensitive education, and midwifery funding and support. Following the assault against reproductive rights after Dobbs v. Jackson, ALBA and The Puffin Foundation renewed their commitment to reproductive justice, particularly in underserved communities. IWR is committed to honoring Native & Indigenous People’s inherent right to equitable and culturally safe health options through accessible health education, resources, and advocacy. They also reclaim what colonialism and white supremacy have tried to take away: identity, culture, tradition, and language.
You can read more about Indigenous Women Rising as well as past winners of the ALBA/Puffin Prize on this page of ALBA’s website, as well as on our page linked above. The award ceremony will not be open to the public this year, but highlights of the award ceremony will be available at a later date on the ALBA site.
The Clara Lemlich Awards for Social Activism
The Clara Lemlich Award is given annually to women activists in their 80’s, 90’s, and beyond. The awards are named for a Jewish woman from a formerly Russian, now Ukrainian town who emigrated to New York as a teen and within a few years rose to leadership in the garment workers labor movement. Over the course of her long life, Lemlich was active in many struggles for social and economic justice, include the suffrage movement, consumer rights, and peace efforts, and even helped organize the orderlies in her nursing home. This year, the awards will be back in person, at the Museum of the City of New York. Learning about the awardees is always tremendously inspiring. The 2023 awards will go to:
Alice Ip, a Chinatown union activist
Olive Freud, an Upper West Side housing activist
Velma Hill, a civil rights and union activist
Barbara Martinsons, a prisoners’ rights advocate
Angela Fontanez, a Black and Latino cultural correspondent
Anita Weisbord, a Holocaust educator (posthumously)
For more information about past awardees and the event ceremony, to which Puffin is a contributor, visit the website of Labor Arts.
Puffin Cultural Forum
Powerful prints and textiles by Faith Ringgold are currently on view in the gallery at the Puffin Cultural Forum, through April 28th. This exhibit was mounted in collaboration with Gallery Bergen, where more works by Ringgold can be seen. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 10:30-4:00.
Patrick R. Riccards from Life After Hate, the winner of the 2022 ALBA/Puffin Prize for Human Rights Activism, will be speaking at the Puffin Cultural Forum on Saturday, May 20th, at 8 PM. The title of this free presentation is “Refusing to Accept Violent Extremism.”