The thirteenth annual Ridenhour Prizes were awarded on April 20 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. This year pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for her role in exposing the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and helping to kick off a nationwide conversation about lead exposure.
"My job right now is to garner the resources for our children because we have a long road ahead of us," said. Dr. Hanna-Attisha as she accepted the award after an introduction by Rachel Maddow. "And we're so grateful to finally have investigations under way — to have results from those investigations. Because the people of Flint need that truth.... Because only when they have that truth can they begin the process of reconciliation and the long path to healing that must occur."
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha accepts the 2016 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. Photo: Nathan Mitchell.
Chicago journalist Jamie Kalven was awarded the 2016 Ridenhour Courage Prize for his human rights advocacy and life-long work amplifying the voices of truth-tellers. Kalven was instrumental in revealing what really happened to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed after being shot 16 times by Chicago police officers.
"We would not know the name of Laquan McDonald were it not for the civic courage of two individuals who must, for the moment, themselves remain unnamed: a whistleblower in law enforcement who reached out with a tip about the case and a civilian witness, who, despite his fears of police reprisals, told me what he had seen," said Kalven.
Wesley Lowery presents the 2016 Ridenhour Courage Prize to Jamie Kalven. Photo: Nathan Mitchell.
Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer was awarded the 2016 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize for The Look of Silence, which examines the enduring legacy of genocidal violence in Indonesia in the 1960s.
"The Indonesian genocide is not just Indonesian history, it's American history as well. We provided weapons, money, and other support to the death squads, as well as lists of thousands of names of public figures that our government wanted killed," said Joshua Oppenheimer after an introduction by Human Rights Watch's Sarah Margon. "We in the US must, therefore, do the same work as the Indonesians. We must declassify the documents that reveal our role in these crimes, and we must take responsibility."
Joshua Oppenheimer accepts the 2016 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize. Photo: Nathan Mitchell.
Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, was awarded the 2016 Ridenhour Book Prize. Reporting on the details of a single homicide case in South Los Angeles, Leovy offers an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, examining why murder happens in our cities, and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.
"There are some things about Ron Ridenhour's story that strike me extremely deeply. One is pushing back against, not just official stories, but popular narratives and popular emotional understandings of the world," said Jill Leovy.
Chris Jackson presents The Ridenhour Book Prize. Photo: Nathan Mitchell.
"I have an Excel file, just from LA County, of 20,000 names in it, dating back to 1980s. These are thousands and thousands of unseen deaths," she said.
"I deeply appreciate what others see that I was trying to get across, which is the invisibility of these victims."
To learn more about this year's winners and to watch videos of the ceremony, please click here.