PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award

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The PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award was an award presented annually from 1993 to 2006 to a U.S. resident who "fought courageously, despite adversity, to safeguard the First Amendment right to freedom of expression as it applies to the written word."[1] Sponsored by PEN American Center and Newman's Own, a cash prize of $20,000 was awarded.

After 2006, the award was replaced by the PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award.[2]

The PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award was presented for only one year. It was meant to given to a U.S. resident "who has fought courageously, despite adversity, to safeguard the First Amendment right to freedom of expression as it applies to the written word."[3] Sponsored by PEN American Center and Katherine Anne Porter Foundation, the award included a cash prize of US$10,000. The award succeeded the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award which was last awarded in 2006.

The awards are among many PEN awards sponsored by International PEN affiliates in over 145 PEN centres around the world. The PEN American Center awards have been characterized as being among the "major" American literary prizes.[4]


Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award

2008[5] - Laura Berg - A psychiatric nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital who faced an investigation into possible charges of sedition when she wrote a letter to the editor of her local newspaper which was critical of George W. Bush.

Newman's Own First Amendment Award

2006 - Sibel Edmonds - a translator who was fired from her job at the FBI after complaining of intelligence failures and poor performance in her unit.

2005[6] - Joan Airoldi - a librarian and library director in rural Washington State who challenged an FBI effort to search patron records under the Library Awareness Program.

2004 - Barbara Parsons Lane, one of eight incarcerated writers who were sued by the State of Connecticut after contributing to Couldn't Keep It To Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters, a moving anthology of stories and essays by women who participated in a creative writing workshop led by Wally Lamb at York Correctional Institute.

2003 - Jerilynn Adams Williams, a Texas librarian who successfully turned back an attempt to remove books from circulation at Montgomery County public libraries.

2002 - Vanessa Leggett, freelance writer who was jailed in a federal detention center in Texas for 168 days for refusing to bow to a sweeping subpoena of confidential source materials.

2001[7] - Deloris Wilson, high school librarian in West Monroe, Louisiana who fought to preserve access to library materials banned for sexual content.

- Alberto Sarrain, Cuban-émigré theater producer who challenged Miami-Dade County's ban on public funding to arts organizations performing work by artists currently living in Cuba.

2000 - Dr. William Holda, President, Kilgore College, who defended the production of Tony Kushner's play Angels in America in Kilgore, Texas.

1999 - Releah Lent, Florida high school teacher and student newspaper advisor who has struggled to defend literature in the classroom and press freedom for students.

1998 - Terrilyn Simpson, Maine writer and journalist harassed for her attempts to cover local industrial health hazards.

1997 - Nancy Hsu Fleming, defeated a corporation's attempt to silence her written concerns about possible groundwater contamination caused by a local landfill.

1996 - Cissy Lacks, Missouri high school Creative Writing teacher fired for "failure to censor her students' creative expression."

1995 - Joyce Meskis, Denver bookstore owner who successfully challenged a Colorado law barring stores open to children from selling novels and art books with sexual content, and who continued to sell Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses in 1989, donating 25% of proceeds to anticensorship organizations.

1994 - Carole Marlowe, Arizona drama teacher who resisted district censorship of a play selected for student production.

1993 - Claudia Johnson, restored literary classics—including Steinbeck, Chaucer, Aristophanes—that had been banned from Florida classrooms; defended student production of A Raisin in the Sun. Patricia Lightweis fought targeted obscenity charges brought against her for books and magazines carried at her store in South Carolina.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award recipient announced". PEN American Center. April 5, 2004. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Announcing $10,000 Award for First Amendment Defender". PEN American Center. November 12, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ "V.A. Nurse to Receive 2008 PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award". PEN American Center. April 11, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ Alfred Bendixen (2005). "Literary Prizes and Awards". The Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 689. 
  5. ^ Times editors (April 27, 2008). "Laura Berg's Letter". New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ Airoldi, Joan (2005-05-17). "Librarian's brush with FBI shapes her view of the USA Patriot Act". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-04-16. 
  7. ^ "Ordinary Heroes: Two ACLU Clients to Receive the 2001 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award". American Civil Liberties Union. April 20, 2001. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 

External links[edit]

  • PEN, official website.