NEW YORK - November 15 - Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich is the winner of the 2004 Puffin/Nation Prize, which carries a $100,000 cash award and is given annually to an American citizen who has challenged the status quo "through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, socially responsible work of significance." The Puffin/Nation Prize is given jointly by the Puffin Foundation Ltd. of New Jersey and The Nation Institute, the New York City-based foundation started in 1966 by the owners of The Nation magazine.
Ehrenreich is being recognized for exposing truths largely ignored by the media, most notably the day-to-day indignities endured by the nations working poor and, more recently, the dangers to our democracy posed by this administrations policies which have led us into a failed pre-emptive war, the abandonment of human rights in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, and the squelching of dissent at home.
Barbara Ehrenreich urges us to remember there is a widening gap between the values this country was founded on and the values we present to the world today, says Perry Rosenstein, president of the Puffin Foundation Ltd. She encourages us to think of those of us who carry more than their fair share of the burden, and inspires us to do more to help the many Americans who are struggling.
Ehrenreich is the author of the best-selling Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by In America (Metropolitan Books, 2001), a chronicle of her attempt to live on the minimum wage. Nickel and Dimed recently passed the 1 million copies sold mark, and is now required reading at more than 600 colleges and universities, from University of the Ozarks to Yale University to Western Wyoming Community College. Last year, conservative students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill were joined by some state legislators in trying to get the book dropped from the required reading list for first-year students. They claimed the book, in which Ehrenreich works alongside people so poor they are forced into homelessness, was too liberal. The effort failed.
We have to do much more to dramatize poverty, and make it something the politicians cant look away from, says Ehrenreich. Its too easy right now for the poor to blend in.
This is the fourth year the Prize has been presented. Recipients are chosen by a panel of four judges whose identities are not disclosed. Previous winners are Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union; Robert Moses, celebrated civil rights advocate and founder of the Algebra Project; and David Protess, anti-death penalty advocate and founder of the Innocence Project. The Prize will be formally presented at a ceremony in New York City on Wednesday, December 1. More information is available at www.nationinstitute.org and http://www.puffinfoundation.org.