The Nation Institute 2012 Annual Dinner Gala, emceed by the host of MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes and Nation magazine Editor at Large Chris Hayes, was held on December 3, bringing together a diverse range of progressive voices in New York City.
Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, was this year's recipient of the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Jealous was introduced by Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino.
Jealous received the award for his unwavering dedication to civil and human rights. As the youngest person to lead the NAACP, Jealous has invigorated civil rights by building new alliances across progressive communities. Under his leadership, the NAACP has taken on an array of the most pressing issues of our time: inequity in opportunity and education, climate change, supporting marriage equality, fighting to save the life of Troy Davis, and ending the death penalty. The NAACP has worked tirelessly to expand and protect the franchise, registering thousands upon thousands of voters while fighting voter suppression efforts at every turn.
The Puffin Foundation Ltd. and The Nation Institute are the mutual sponsors of an annual award in the amount of $100,000 given to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative and socially responsible work of significance. The prize is intended to encourage the recipients to continue their work, and to inspire others to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies they face in their careers.
Gladys Rosenstein presents the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, as she does every year with her husband Perry Rosenstein.
Perry Rosenstein, the president of the Puffin Foundation, describes Jealous as "a front-line fighter for justice and equality, and a visionary who sees the interconnected nature of all kinds of human rights struggles."
In a December issue of the Nation, Liliana Segura outlined Jealous' committment to ending the death penalty. He brought as his guest to the dinner the nephew of Troy Davis, a man whose execution by the state of Georgia Jealous had fought to stop. Segura reports:
Jealous said [the prize money] would allow him to "keep a sacred promise" he made to Davis and his sister before they died: "That I would continue to support Troy's nephew and Martina's son in his journey from boyhood to manhood, no matter what happened. A significant portion of this money will be used to help pay for De'Jaun's college education." In addition to carrying on his family's legacy, De'Jaun says he plans to go to Morehouse College and study engineering.
The night's impassioned keynote was given by independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. You can watch it below by clicking on the "play" button:
John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for the Nation and author of Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street (Nation Books), shared his reflections on Sanders' speech over at the Nation.com. He describes how Sanders' declaration that he would not accept cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid was met with cheers, writing that "Sanders is a hero to progressives, like those who gathered Monday night in New York for the annual event, is no secret." He pushes further to explore how Sanders' success lies partly in the way that "does not accept conventional wisdom, and he does not play by conventional political rules."
Ben Cohen of ice cream company Ben and Jerry's was on hand to serve ice cream and provide stamp dollars as part of his "Stamp Stampede" to "stamp money out of politics". He is pictured here with Laura Flanders, blogger for TheNation.com and host and founder of GRITtv with Laura Flanders.
Longtime friend of The Nation Institute Don Schaffer was also honored for his tireless commitment to improving the world. While the statement honoring him in the Dinner Journal recognized his invaluable support of the work of Nation Institute Fellows such as Jonathan Schell, Katha Politt, and Eric Alterman, it said, "we recognize him tonight not as a generous donor, but as a role model and an inspiration."
Nation Institute President Andy Breslau presents Don Shaffer with a gift of a cartoon by Steve Brodner.