Visual Art winner Kaitlin Noble's The Oreo Effect

The New York Civil Liberties Union today announced the winners of its fifth-annual Freedom in Expression contest, which invited young people in New York City to lend their voices and creativity to the struggle for social justice.

The annual contest, funded by a grant from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, asks youth to explore a topic relevant to their lives and related to civil rights and liberties. This year, young people were invited to reflect and comment on justice in America – in school, on the street and in society at large. Entries covered a wide range of issues, including the School to Prison Pipeline, racial profiling, the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the treatment of prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.

The awards were presented to contest winners Monday night at the NYCLU's annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom benefit. Dozens of Broadway's finest - including musical director Seth Rudetsky and leading actors from Jersey Boys, Wicked, the original cast of Rent, Spring Awakening, Spelling Bee, Les Miz and the entire cast of Godspell - took to the stage to salute the students and the work of the NYCLU.

More students submitted entries than any other year in the contest's history. The submissions were judged in six categories: essays, poetry, audio recordings, visual arts, journalism, and for the first time, documentary films and Web-based projects.

“To see so many young people express a passionate commitment to social justice is inspiring,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “Each of these winners tackled complex issues with intelligence, clarity and conviction. The NYCLU is proud to have been a vehicle for their talent and creativity.”

The contest was open to New York City youth 19 years old and younger. First prize winners in each category received $1,000; second prize received $500.

Winners

Essay:

1st Place - $1,000 – Marina Reza, Taking Oath Citizenship, Perjury
11th Grade, Woodside NY, The Nightingale-Bamford School.

2nd Place – Tie, $250 to each
– Fatima Peterson, Untitled
9th Grade, Brooklyn NY, Institute for Collaborative Education
- Trevlond Myrie, Untitled
12th Grade, Brooklyn NY, Brooklyn College Academy

Poetry:

1st Place - $1,000 – George Rosa, Colorblind
9th Grade, Long Island City, NY, Academy of American Studies

2nd Place - $500 – Keith James Alexander, If it makes me cocky, then so be it
El Puente Leadership Center, Brooklyn NY

Honorable Mention – Tamara Maria Belopopsky, Guantanamo Number 053
12th Grade, Manhattan, LaGuardia HS of the Arts

Visual Arts:

1st Place - $1,000 – Kaitlin Noble, The Oreo Effect
10th Grade, Bronx NY, Art and Design High School

2nd Place - $500 – Stefan Dezil, Untitled: Locker
Incoming Freshman, Carnegie Mellon University

Honorable Mention – Class Collaboration, 11th & 12th Grade. Digital Mural, We The People: Bronx Youth Speak, Bronx HS of the Visual Arts Design, Bronx NY

Journalism:

1st Place for second year in a row - $1,000: High School for Law and Public Service, The Advocate, produced by journalism students, first color edition, Washington Heights NY

Documentary Filmmaking:

1st Place - $1,000: Natasha Z. Stanislas, America the Beautiful
12th Grade, High School for American Studies, Bronx NY

New Media:

1st Place - $1,000 – Lucy Hollier, The Worst Punishment
9th Grade, Brooklyn NY, Institute for Collaborative Education

Honorable Mention: Andrè Greene, I love him, he loves me: we want to be a big happy family, 9th Grade, Brooklyn NY, Institute for Collaborative Education

Winners of Youth Speak Out for Freedom Award
The winning entries were read aloud by Broadway performers Monday evening during Broadway Stands Up for Freedom, an annual concert benefiting the NYCLU's youth programs.

Cynthia Delaney – Jenny Gone Jake
11th Grade, Fiorello H. LaGuarida HS of the Performing Arts

Thu Huynh – I Want Freedom
10th Grade, Townsend Harris High School

Pleshette V. Carr – Elimination
College Freshman, St. Francis College