The PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award was established in 2015 to honor exceptional acts of courage in the exercise of freedom of expression. The Award is granted after consultations among PEN staff and Trustees with specific relevant expertise on matters of freedom of expression. In some cases, outside expertise from PEN’s membership, partner organizations, and network of contacts is enlisted to inform internal analysis and deliberations. All final decisions regarding Award determination and recipients are made by the Executive Committee of the PEN America Board of Trustees.


THE WOMEN’S MARCH
2017 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award

The Women’s March, which took place in Washington, D.C., and in cities around the nation and the world on January 21, 2017, mobilized millions of women and men of all races, creeds, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and disabilities to use the weekend of the inauguration to, as the organizers said, “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.” National Co-Chairs Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, along with a dynamic, powerful, and diverse group of national organizers, helped galvanize a potent global movement to resist infringements on the rights and dignity of women and many other groups, and to issue a clarion call that Americans would not sit back in the face of threats to values and freedoms. The Women’s March moved beyond an assertion of the power of women, growing into a symbolic assertion of the resistance movement.

 

DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA and LEE-ANNE WALTERS
2016 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award

Lee-Anne Walters and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha were two essential voices in exposing the lead poisoning of Flint’s water supply, calling out grave damage to public health. A mother of four, Walters faced off against local government apathy, taking months of independent research on Flint’s water supply and testing protocols directly to the EPA. Dr. Hanna-Attisha conducted a survey to find that the number of lead poisoning cases had doubled since the city’s move to a new water system, and announced her findings at a press conference during a time when the city and state continued to insist that Flint’s water was safe. Together, the actions of Walters and Hanna-Attisha are a vivid demonstration of the potency of speech in forcing truths out into the open and the centrality of citizens’ expression to a thriving democracy.

 

CHARLIE HEBDO
2015 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award

The January 7 attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo took the lives of eight staff cartoonists and columnists, a visiting writer, a building maintenance worker, and two policemen. The day after the attack, the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine vowed to continue publication, releasing their next edition on time with a print run expanded from 40,000 to over eight million under the mantra “All is Forgiven,” donating all proceeds to the families of the victims. The Charlie Hebdo attacks dealt a blow to the bedrock principle that no act of expression, no matter how provocative or offensive, can justify violence. Charlie Hebdo film critic and essayist Jean-Baptiste Thoret, who arrived to work late on January 7 thus barely escaping the attack, will accept the PEN/James and Toni C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on behalf of his colleagues, and will be accompanied by The New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, who wrote a stirring tribute to his Parisian compatriots published in his magazine’s January 15 issue.