Previous recipients of this annual award are environmental activist, author and social entrepreneur Van Jones, human rights and civil liberties lawyer Michael Ratner, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich, labor activist Dolores Huerta, educator and author Jonathan Kozol, professor and anti-death penalty advocate David Protess, and civil rights pioneer Robert Parris Moses. Candidates for the prize are to be found in a broad range of occupations and pursuits, including academia, journalism, public health, literature, art, the environmental sciences, labor and the humanities.


Colin Kaepernick was awarded the 2017 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. During the 2016 NFL pre-season, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of racism and police violence.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said at the time. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
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Bryan Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, the EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the United States Supreme Court, including an historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.
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Reverend Barber is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday movement, an alliance of more than 200 progressive organizations in North Carolina. The multi-racial, multi-issue grassroots civil disobedience coalition, which began organizing ten years ago, has met at the North Carolina state capitol for the past two years to protest the gutting of voting rights and social programs, and to rally for economic justice, universal healthcare, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, and public education.
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FRANCES FOX PIVEN| 2014 Recipient
Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY, will receive the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. This prestigious award will be presented to Piven on Monday, December 8, 2014, at The Nation Institute's Annual Gala Dinner in New York City.
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REV. BARRY W. LYNN| 2013 Recipient
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, will receive the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. This prestigious award will be presented to Lynn on Monday, December 9, 2013, at The Nation Institute's Annual Gala Dinner in New York City.
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BENJAMIN JEALOUS | 2012 Recipient
Benjamin Jealous is receiving 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.
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TONY KUSHNER | 2011 Recipient
Tony Kushner Playwright, screenwriter, and activist Tony Kushner is the 2011 recipient of the $100,000 Puffin / Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Kushner is being honored for a lifetime of artistic work giving voice to the marginalized, and his outspoken criticism of social injustice. He has tackled everything from AIDS and the conservative backlash, to the civil rights movement in the South, to Afghanistan and the West, and the rise of capitalism.
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CECILE RICHARDS | 2010 Recipient
Cecile Richards serves as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA's advocacy and political arm. She is a leader in national progressive politics with more than 30 years of experience working on behalf of social justice and reproductive freedom.
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BILL MCKIBBEN | 2010 Recipient
Bill McKibben is an American environmentalist and author who frequently writes about global warming and alternative energy, and advocates for more localized economies.
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JIM HIGHTOWER | 2009 Recipient
Jim Hightower, is an advocate for everyday people whose voices are seldom heard in Washington and on Wall Street, Hightower believes that "politics isn't about left versus right; it's about top versus bottom." He broadcasts daily radio commentaries on subjects ranging from public healthcare to Hamid Karzai. They air on more than 150 commercial and public stations across the country.
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VAN JONES | 2008 Recipient
Van Jones, a champion for the toughest urban constituencies and causes, is the founder and president of Green For All, a national advocacy organization based in Oakland, California, that is committed to building an inclusive, green economy that can lift millions of people out of poverty.
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MICHAEL RATNER | 2007 Recipient
Michael Ratner, one of the country's foremost defenders of human rights and civil liberties, will be honored for repeatedly challenging the Bush administration on the constitutionality of indefinite detention and restrictions on domestic civil liberties.
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AMY GOODMAN | 2006 Recipient
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of the daily news program, Democracy Now! She was honored for her ground-breaking reporting and commitment to questioning those in power on behalf of those who rarely have a voice in the mainstream media.
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JONATHAN KOZOL | 2005 Recipient
Renowned educator and author Jonathan Kozol was recognized for exposing the socioeconomic and racial inequities of the public education system.
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Barbara Ehrenreich was recognized for exposing truths largely ignored by the media, most notably the day-to-day indignities endured by the nation’s working poor.
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DAVID PROTESS | 2003 Recipient
Northwestern University professor, David Protess, has been at the forefront of a nationwide movement to exonerate innocent death row prisoners and is the founding director of the Innocence Project.
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DOLORES HUERTA | 2002 Recipient
Dolores Huerta is a lifelong human rights activist and co-founder, along with César Chavez, of the United Farm Workers Union.
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    ROBERT PARRIS MOSES | 2001 Recipient
Robert Parris Moses is a lifelong social activist, civil rights pioneer, visionary educator and founder of the Algebra Project.
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Current Prize Recipient

The Parkland Student Activists are the winners of the 2019 Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship.

The Students, in partnership with young activists across the country, founded the March for Our Lives to end gun violence and challenge the complacency of lawmakers. March organizers David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Delaney Tarr, and Ramon Contreras will accept the prize at The Nation Institute's Gala Dinner on Dec. 11 in New York City.
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