Newseum Announces Recipients of the 2017 Free Expression Awards

Free Expression Awards

Newseum President and CEO Jeffery Herbst delivers opening remarks at the 2016 Free Expression Awards. (Maria Bryk/Newseum)

The Newseum has announced the recipients of the 2017 Free Expression Awards, which recognize those who exhibit passion for and dedication to free expression. Honorees have taken personal or professional risks in sharing critical information with the public, have been censored or punished by authorities or other groups for their work, or have pushed boundaries in artistic and media expression. This year’s award categories are lifetime achievement, religious freedom, free press, and arts and entertainment.

The 2017 honorees are:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Rep. John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. A leader of the civil rights movement, Lewis was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1987 and continues to fight for American constitutional freedoms.
  • Religious Freedom Award:  Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz is the executive director of Becket Law. At Becket, she leads a team of lawyers and communications professionals who defend religious freedom for people of all faiths at home and abroad. In 2016, she was named by the Speaker of the House to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan commission that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.
  • Free Press Award: Martha Raddatz is ABC News’s chief global affairs correspondent, and her vast experience includes nearly 20 years of reporting on the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House, and from conflict zones around the world. She has reported from a range of locations throughout the world from Haiti and Yemen to the Mideast and through south Asia.
  • Arts and Entertainment Award: Hugh Hefner and Christie Hefner are joint honorees for their passionate advocacy of First Amendment rights. Hugh Hefner launched Playboy in 1953 in conservative post-war America. The magazine took a progressive approach to sexuality and free expression, and advocated for civil rights and social justice. His daughter Christie Hefner was Chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. from 1988 to 2008, making her the longest-serving female CEO of a U.S. public company. She launched the HMH First Amendment Awards and is Chairman of them today.

The winners will be honored at a special event at the Newseum on April 18, 2017. Catherine Merrill Williams, president and publisher of Washingtonian Media, will chair the dinner. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sara Bronnenkant at Individual tickets will be released for sale in early 2017.

The Newseum, which welcomes more than 800,000 visitors each year, champions free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment through interactive exhibits, engaging public programs and robust educational initiatives. The museum has become an important nonpartisan forum for spirited dialogue about the important issues of the day and a neutral location to discuss and debate the important principles upon which America was built.


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