The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial

Center for Human Rights · National Youth Project Book Award · Human Rights Award · Journalism Award

Wednesday, April 28, 1999


           Contact: David Long

           (202) 463-7575 ext. 270

2 pages

Press Release

Scott Christianson Wins 1999 RFK Book Award Distinguished Honors

Congressman John Lewis, David Halberstam also to be Honored at May 18th

Washington, D.C. Ceremony

Washington, D.C.With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment (Northeastern University Press) by Scott Christianson has received Distinguished Honors in the 1999 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award competition.  Christianson’s compelling With Liberty for Some tells the history and illuminates the meaning of imprisonment in American life, from the colonial slave trade to today’s expanding prison complexes. 

 “Incarceration is foremost among the neglected problems of American society; yet we lock up a greater proportion of our citizens than any other democracy,” said Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., RFK Book Award Founder and Chair.  “With nearly two million Americans in prison today, Scott Christianson moves the issue toward the top of the national agenda and provides the historical and social context for all subsequent discussions of a most tormenting concern.”

Scott Christianson is a former investigative journalist whose works have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, and many other newspapers and magazines, as well as on television and radio.  He received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Albany, where he directed the Center on Minorities and Criminal Justice and subsequently held several high-level positions in the New York State criminal justice system.  The author of numerous scholarly articles, he is senior editor of the Empire State Report, contributing editor of the Criminal Law Bulletin and director of the New York Death Penalty Project.

Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by Congressman John Lewis has been selected as the winner of the 1999 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.  In this powerful memoir, Congressman Lewis recounts the pivotal events of the civil rights movement and his critical role in its struggle to overcome racism and hate with moral consistency and courage.


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RFK Book Award Press Release, page 2

In addition, Distinguished Honors will be given to David Halberstam for The Children (Random House).  The Children is David Halberstam’s portrait of eight idealistic African American students – including John Lewis – whose courage and sacrifice helped propel the struggle for civil rights into the national consciousness.  Halberstam traces both the students’ lives and the growth of the civil rights movement from the 1960s until the present day.

The books were selected from a record-breaking field of over 200 nominations that cover a wide range of subjects that reflect Robert Kennedy’s concern for the poor and powerless and his struggle for social justice and human rights in the United States and around the world.

Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy will present the awards at a ceremony to be conducted in conjunction with the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards on May 18, 1999 at The Freedom Forum in Arlington, Virginia.  Congressman Lewis will receive a $2,500 award and a bust of Robert Kennedy.  David Halberstam and Scott Christianson will each receive a $1,000 award and a bust of Robert Kennedy.

The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award was founded in 1980 with the proceeds from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s best-selling biography, Robert Kennedy and His Times.  Each year, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and John Seigenthaler, the chairs of the Award, choose an independent panel of four judges to select the winner.  This year’s judges are Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Caroline Kennedy, Bill Kovach and Ambassador William vanden Heuvel.  The RFK Book Awards have received international recognition as one of the most prestigious honors an author can achieve.

Past winners include Vice President Al Gore, Toni Morrison, Randall Kennedy, Neil Sheehan, Robert Coles, Myles Horton, Anthony Lukas, Stephen B. Oates and Jonathon Kozol.

The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Ceremony is held in conjunction with the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards Ceremony, and is hosted by The Freedom Forum, a non-partisan international organization dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.  Its headquarters is The Freedom Forum World Center in Arlington, Virginia.

Robert Kennedy's belief that individual action could overcome injustice and oppression continues to inspire generations to change the world.  The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a non-profit organization dedicated to social justice and human rights, was founded in 1968 by friends and family as a living tribute to Robert Kennedy’s vision of a better world.

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