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 voice their opinion on important civil rights and civil liberties issues of the day. The annual competition asks young people to address a civil rights or civil liberties topic relevant to their lives. This year’s contest theme was inspired by the civil rights movement and the current fight for racial justice and equality for all. Participants were asked to respond to the prompt: “The major civil rights issue of my generation is…” by creatively portraying which rights were most important to them and how those rights impacted them on a personal level. Entries covered a wide range of issues including discriminatory policing, LGBT rights, reproductive freedom and immigration. “Year after year our Freedom of Expression Contest hails the next generation of civil rights leaders,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We are thrilled to give New York’s young people the opportunity to creatively inspire and educate our city about the social justice issues that matter to them most.” Awardees are invited to attend the NYCLU’s annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom benefit concert on Monday, July 21 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. Dozens of Broadway’s finest performers, including Tony Award-winners Lena Hall and Bryce Pinkham, will take the stage to support the NYCLU’s youth programs. Selected winning entries will be highlighted at the show. This year more than 150 young people submitted entries to the Freedom of Expression Contest. The submissions were judged in two categories: Creative Writing and Visual Arts. The contest was open to New York City youth between 10 and 21 years old. First, second and third place winners and two honorable mentions were selected in both categories. Cash prizes totaling $1,000 were distributed among the winners. THE WINNERS:

Creative Writing Category

First Place: “Painting” by Lovliana Baptiste (Brooklyn College Academy; Poem; Age 18) Second Place: “They Came” by Caroline Hagemann (Susan E. Wagner High School; Poem; Age 16) Third Place: “Stop and Think” by Maimouna Faye (College of Staten Island High School for International Studies; Poem; Age 15) Honorable Mention #1: “The Choice Is Yours” by Iyana Jones (Midwood High School; Script; Age 18) Honorable Mention #2: “I Am Me” by Tina Jiang (Stuyvesant High School; Poem & Spoken Word; Age 15)

Visual Arts Category

First Place: “Freedoom” by Emily Arlantico (The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria; Digital Drawing; Age 15) Second Place: “Am I Really Equal?” by Nicholas Perrotti (Stuyvesant High School; Drawing; Age 16) Third Place: “Glass Ceiling” by Julie Shon (Stuyvesant High School; Drawing; Age 16) Honorable Mention #1: “Sonnet 29” by Matthew Hernandez (Pratt Institute; Comic/Graphic Art; Age 20) Honorable Mention #2: “Courtroom” by Caroline Pajdo (Stuyvesant High School; Drawing; Age 18) To learn more about the NYCLU’s youth programs or to find out how you can get tickets to this year’s Broadway Stands Up for Freedom benefit concert, click here.