The New York Civil Liberties Union today announced the winners of its annual Freedom of Expression Contest, which invites young people in New York City to speak their minds on important civil liberties issues of the day. The annual contest asks youth to explore a topic relevant to their lives and related to civil rights and liberties. This year, the contest asked young people to describe what rights are most important to them, prompted by the theme, “I have a right to…”. Entries covered a wide range of issues, including the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices, LGBT rights, racial justice, reproductive freedom and immigration. “It’s truly inspiring to see so many young people express themselves powerfully in support of freedom and liberty,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Each of these winners tackled complex issues with creativity, clarity and conviction. We’re honored to provide them an opportunity to speak their minds and demonstrate their talent.” Awardees are invited to attend the NYCLU’s annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom benefit concert on Monday, July 23 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. Dozens of Broadway’s finest performers, including musical director Seth Rudetsky and actors from Once, Wicked and Porgy & Bess, will take the stage to support the NYCLU’s youth programs. Selected winning contest entries will be presented during the show. This year more than 450 students submitted entries. The submissions were judged in four categories: essays, poetry, visual arts and multimedia. The contest was open to New York City youth 10-21 years old. Multiple rounds of judging narrowed down the entries to four overall winners, one from each category. In addition, 16 entries received honorable mention. First place winners received $200.

The Winners:

Visual Arts 1st Place Winner, Phyllis Yao
Essays 1st Place: "Golden Door," Sama Mammadova, 17, Brooklyn College Academy Honorable Mention: “I Am Not an Endangered Species,” Brendon C. Gordon, 17, Queens Collegiate High School “Feminazi,” Katherine Chen, 17, Stuyvesant High School Poetry 1st Place: “Boogie Man,” Maurisa Fraser, 18, Urban Word Honorable Mention: “Undocuqueer,” Luis Saavedra, 20, Lehman College “Stop Me If You Can,” Nicole Paulino, 18, Binghamton University “From Mecca to Manhattan,” Shah Alam, 18, Stuyvesant High School “Immigrants Rights,” Jason Lee, 17, Stuyvesant High School Visual Arts 1st Place: “Finally,” Phyllis Yao, 18, Fiorello H. Laguardia High School for Musical Art Honorable Mention: “Freedom of Speech: Speak Out,” Victor Cheng, 17, The Bronx High School of Science “Collage – Freedom of Expression,” Sadia Shamid, 16, Flushing High School “Helping Hands,” Stephanie Vaurderia, 17, Townsend Harris High School “The Good Stereotype,” Lisa Lee, 17, Stuyvesant High School Multimedia 1st Place: “Fight for Dewey,” Patrick Green, 16, John Dewey High School Honorable Mention: “My Life Under Suspicion,” Educational Video Center (group) “Dream Act PSA,” Frisly Soberanis, 18, ACTF