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November 08, 1999 04:24pm
Hugh Hefner 1st Amendment Awards
Source: PRNewswire
by: Company Press Release

(CHICAGO, IL) -- For 20 years, the Playboy Foundation, through its annual Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards has recognized nearly 100 citizens whose personal struggles have protected the fundamental rights of all Americans.

The list will grow by seven on Monday, November 15, as the 1999 recipients are honored during the 20th annual awards presentation at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Established in 1979 by Christie Hefner, CEO and chairman of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., as a tribute to her father, the awards acknowledge individuals who have made significant contributions to protect and enhance First Amendment Rights: freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. The awards have been given traditionally in the areas of print and broadcast journalism, education, publishing, arts and entertainment, law, government and lifetime achievement.

``My father has embraced the First Amendment throughout his life and supported the protections these rights extend to all Americans,'' said Ms. Hefner. ``These awards recognize heroes while helping to emphasize the ongoing need for the Amendment. They bring to life the statement popularized by ACLU founder Roger Baldwin that 'no fight for civil liberties ever stays won.'''

Each recipient of the HMH First Amendment Awards receives a $5,000 honorarium as well as a crystal plaque commemorating his or her individual achievements.

The 1999 HMH First Amendment Award winners include:

-- Nicholas Becker, today a University of Maryland student, for challenging the constitutionality of a student-led prayer during his high school graduation ceremony;

-- Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker, for, boldly and irreverently using his cable television show The Awful Truth (Bravo) to educate the public about issues critical to preserving First Amendment rights;

-- Donald Parker, founder of the Long Island Coalition Against Censorship and the New York Civil Liberties Union Nassau Chapter, for his lifelong dedication to combating censorship in the schools and libraries of Long Island, New York;

-- Bruce Sanford, partner at Baker & Hostetler, for his book Don't Shoot the Messenger: How Our Growing Hatred of the Media Threatens Free Speech for All of Us, which sounds a wake-up call about the dangers to democracy from the public's mistrust of those who present the news;

-- Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, who effectively defends the teaching of evolution in public schools and;

-- Elaine Williamson and Jeri McGiverin, who as founders of Mainstream Loudoun -- a membership organization whose purpose is to preserve personal and religious freedom -- successfully challenged Internet filters in the Loudoun County, Virginia libraries.

An independent panel of distinguished judges that included Mark Goodman, executive director, Student Press Law Center; Molly Ivins, author and syndicated columnist, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; and Clarence Page, syndicated political columnist of the Chicago Tribune, selected the 20th Annual HMH First Amendment Awards recipients.

In past years, judges for the awards have included First Amendment advocates such as Nadine Strossen, president American Civil Liberties Union; Tom Wicker, columnist and associate editor The New York Times; Maxine Waters, U.S. Congresswoman; Alan Derschowitz, professor at Harvard Law School; Fay Kanin, past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science; and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

During its 20-year history HMH First Amendment Awards have been presented to individuals including high school students, lawyers, journalists and educators. Nominations are accepted at the start of each calendar year, culminating with the selection and presentation of the winners. Nomination forms for 2000 can be obtained by writing to: HMH First Amendment Awards. The Playboy Foundation, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL, 60611.

The Playboy Foundation supports local and national nonprofit organizations that protect the rights of the individual in a free society. Since its inception in 1965, the Foundation has awarded more than $11 million in grants and in-kind contributions to organizations concerned with the First Amendment freedoms, civil liberties and social justice.

SOURCE: Playboy Foundation

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