At this year’s Lasker-Callaway Awards Event, the NYCLU honored three stellar individuals for their leadership and visionary force in the field of civil liberties and civil rights: Victor Navasky and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation, and hip-hop entrepreneur, Russell Simmons.

We presented Victor Navasky and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation with the Joseph Callaway Prize for the Defense of the Right to Privacy in recognition of their outstanding contributions to raising public awareness about the importance of privacy rights.

The Callaway Prize has been presented annually by the NYCLU since 1992 to an individual or group that has contributed significantly to the defense or advancement of personal privacy rights against intrusion by government or others.

Through their leadership at The Nation, Mr. Navasky and Ms. vanden Heuvel have published numerous articles in defense of privacy. Furthermore, they have voiced in the media and elsewhere their views in support of privacy and have reproached the government officials who have sought to erode this fundamental freedom.

Russell Simmons received the Florina Lasker Award in recognition of his outstanding commitment and contributions to improving the quality of public education for all children in New York and for his brave efforts to counter racism and police brutality.

Mr. Simmons founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, which collaborates with the Hip-Hop Youth Summit Council, a youth group dedicated to utilizing the powerful influence of hip-hop music to improve the quality of life for the youth of this country for positive actions and to promote civil rights.

The youth group also works closely with NYCLU’s partner, The Alliance for Quality Education, a nonprofit coalition fighting for education reform in New York State.

Our Lasker-Callaway event is the high note of our special events calendar. Past recipients of the Lasker-Callaway awards include such prominent individuals as ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, students and pioneers in school desegregation from Little Rock, Arkansas, Cesar Chavez, Jackie and Rachel Robinson, Governor Mario Cuomo, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Harry Belafonte, Arthur Miller, Dr. Matilde Krim, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, Sister Helen Prejean, and Frank and Malachy McCourt.

The event included an evening of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and, most importantly, helped to raise important funds to support NYCLU’s work: litigation, advocacy, public education and community organizing.

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