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First Five News Extra: Free Expression Awards 2021

The Freedom Forum honored nine champions of free and fearless expression last night at the 2021 Free Expression Awards:

  • NPR founding mothers Susan Stamberg, Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and the late Cokie Roberts;
  • Educator and activist DeRay Mckesson;
  • Miami Herald investigative journalist Julie K. Brown;
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki;
  • Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and publisher Jimmy Lai;
  • Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell.

If you couldn’t be in the (virtual) room where it happened, this First Five News Extra features highlights from the awards show, plus this week’s Free Expression Festival.

Got 3 minutes to watch? Here’s a highlights reel of the FEA’s most inspirational moments.

Quotes That Inspired Us:

  • “NPR didn’t know it was being courageous back when it hired all of us. It just knew we were cheap — and that was the role of women at the time. We got paid so little that a network that had no money hired us all and found out it could do very well with us.” – NPR’s Nina Totenberg
  • “The right to free expression is one of the bedrock rights in our society, that without it, I don’t know how the protests happen, I don’t know how we push the society to be the best it can be.” – Activist DeRay Mckesson
  • “At this moment in history when events and people test our resilience, when propaganda, conspiracies and lies threaten to undermine all that our nation holds dear, it will be journalists who hold the corrupt and powerful into account.” – Miami Herald investigative journalist Julie K. Brown
  • “Many of the rights that we used to take for granted have now been taken from us, as you can see from the 47 people who have been recently charged for what is essentially inciting democracy.” – Sebastien Lai, accepting on behalf his father, Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai, now facing prison for his pro-democracy activism
  • “I’ve just seen the real benefits that freedom of speech has as well as representing people of all different backgrounds and all different perspectives. The freedoms we have, we really can’t take for granted.” – Susan Wojcicki
  • “This is what I prepared to give my life for; my rights to speak out, your rights to speak out.” – Gen. Colin Powell

Free Expression Festival: Activism, Journalism, Democracy and Humor

Our Free Expression Festival featured lively and topical conversations between:

  • AP national race and ethnicity writer Aaron L. Morrison and DeRay Mckesson;
  • ABC News reporter and The Press Forward’s Gloria Riviera and Julie K. Brown;
  • Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn and the Hudson Institute’s Melanie Kirkpatrick, discussing his friend, Jimmy Lai;
  • And since the First Amendment also protects political satire, we’ll let Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist Dave Barry, interviewed by Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri, have the next-to-last word: “We’re both 110 percent in favor of the First Amendment, which gives us the right to say anything, including 110 percent.”

Mark Your Calendars

Next year’s Free Expression Awards are Thursday, April 28, 2022. We hope to see you there!

One thought on “First Five News Extra: Free Expression Awards 2021”

  1. You Tube censors free speech of those expressing differing political views and your organization honors their CEO with an award for “free expression” award. Not impressed

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