Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Bravery In Literature

Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Bravery In Literature

In 2024, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center launched the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Bravery in Literature in direct response to the alarming rise of book banning in the U.S. and as an extension of our historic medals honoring leaders who advance human rights. For over three decades, the prestigious Eleanor Roosevelt Medal has honored individuals who embraced Eleanor Roosevelt’s call to build a better world through humanitarian efforts in education, advocacy, social justice, and civil and human rights. Eleanor was a fierce and effective advocate for civil and human rights and the chief architect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – including Article 19, the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Bravery in Literature Awards Ceremony, which took place on February 17, 2024, at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, was a remarkable celebration of authors who have fearlessly championed intellectual freedom and battled against censorship. This inaugural event paid tribute to authors whose works have boldly tackled issues of racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and gender equity.

Please find the complete list of 2024 award winners and speakers below.

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Winners & Speakers

Judy Blume | Lifetime Achievement Award

Judy Blume’s twenty-five books for young readers include Forever, Deenie and Tiger Eyes and her four best-selling novels for adults – Wifey, Smart Women, Summer Sisters and In the Unlikely Event – have sold more than 90 million copies in over forty languages. She has been named a Literary Legend by the Library of Congress and received the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded her the E.B. White Award for lifetime achievement in children’s literature in 2017. Judy was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year in 2023. For more than forty years she has been a champion of intellectual freedom working to support teachers and librarians in their fight to keep challenged books on their shelves. An Emmy-nominated documentary Judy Blume Forever and a major motion picture based on her iconic novel Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, are now streaming. In 2016 Blume and her husband founded an independent, non-profit bookstore in their hometown of Key West. These days Blume can be found working several days a week at Books & Books KW.

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults. Her 2019 memoir-in-verse, SHOUT, about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesta for the #MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and is Laurie’s eighth New York Times bestselling book. SHOUT was named a Best Book of the Year by TIME and NPR, among others. Her titles also include the groundbreaking National Book Award finalist and Printz Honor Book Speak as well as the critically acclaimed novels Wintergirls, The Impossible Knife of Memory, Fever 1793, and Chains. In 2023, she was awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which is given annually to a person or organization for their outstanding contribution to children’s and young adult literature. Anderson has also received both the Margaret Edwards Award and the ALAN Award for her contributions to young adult literature. Additionally, she has been honored by the National Coalition Against Censorship in recognition of her fight to combat the censoring of literature.

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Mike Curato

Mike Curato is an award-winning author/artist for children and adults. His debut title, Little Elliot, Big City, released in 2014, has won several awards, and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now five books in the Little Elliot series. Mike was the illustrator of What If… by Samantha Berger, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, The Power of One written by Trudy Ludwig, as well as If I Were a Fish, by Corook and Olivia Barton. Publishers Weekly named Mike a “Fall 2014 Flying Start.” In the same year he won the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Founder’s Award. Mike’s debut young adult graphic novel, Flamer, was awarded the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Young Adults and the 2021 Massachusetts Book Award for Middle Grade/Young Adults. In 2023, Flamer was one of the most banned and challenged books of the year.

Mike lives and works in Western Massachusetts, where he is at work on Gaysians, a graphic novel for adults.

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Alex Gino

Alex Gino writes queer and progressive middle grade novels, including the Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning Melissa. They love glitter, ice cream, gardening, wordplay, and stories that reflect the complexity of being alive, and they would take a quiet coffee date with a friend over a loud and crowded party any day. Alex grew up on Staten Island, NY, where they started telling stories before they could hold a pencil. After thirteen years in Oakland, California, they now live in Western Massachusetts with Thunder the Wonder Cat. They are excited to continue to write stories for and about young LGBTQIA+ people. At least, that’s the plan. Writing is hard.

Website

George M. Johnson

An Emmy nominated, award-winning, and bestselling Black nonbinary author and activist. They have written on race, gender, sex, and culture for Essence, the Advocate, BuzzFeed News, Teen Vogue, and more than forty other national publications. George has appeared on BuzzFeed’s AM2DM as well as on MSNBC. They are also a proud HBCU alum twice over and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Their debut memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue, was a New York Times bestseller and garnered many accolades. It was the second-most banned book of 2022 in the United States, according to the American Library Association. For their work fighting book bans and challenges, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) honored George with its Free Speech Defender Award, and TIME Magazine named them one of the “100 Next Most Influential People in the World.” While writing their memoir, George used he/him pronouns. Originally from Plainfield, New Jersey, they now live in Los Angeles, California.

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Maia Kobabe

Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator from the Bay Area, California. Eir first full length book, GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR, was published in May 2019. Maia’s short comics have been published online by The Nib and The New Yorker, and in many print anthologies including THE SECRET LOVES OF GEEKS, FASTER THAN LIGHT Y’ALL, GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE, ADVANCED DEATH SAVES and BE GAY, DO COMICS. Before setting out to work freelance full-time, e worked for over ten years in libraries. Eir work is heavily influenced by fairy tales, homesickness, and the search for identity.

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Jelani Memory

Jelani Memory (he/him) is an African American entrepreneur, thinker, and constant learner. He wrote A Kids Book About Racism for his kids and founded A Kids Co. for all kids and their grownups. This first book from a line which has grown to over 100 books was the beginning of knowing that kids are ready to talk about the important stuff of life, and that books are a magical way to open up important conversations for kids and grownups. Jelani lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and 6 kids. He still wants to be an artist when he grows up.

Emily Drabinski | Keynote Speaker

Emily Drabinski is Associate Professor at the Queens (N.Y.) College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. She currently serves as President of the American Library Association.

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Matt Nosanchuck | Keynote Speaker

Matt Nosanchuk is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations and Outreach in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. He is an accomplished strategist, thinker, leader, lawyer, public speaker, and writer. Over the course of his career – working in the executive branch, the Senate and House, and in the non-profit and private sectors – Matt has developed breadth, depth, and expertise working on policy, strategy, advocacy, communications, and stakeholder engagement. Most recently, Matt co-founded and led the New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA), a startup non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy on priority issues for the pluralistic and diverse Jewish community in New York City and State. In 2020, Matt led Jewish and LGBTQ+ outreach efforts for the DNC and the Biden-Harris campaign. Matt served throughout the Obama-Biden Administration in senior roles in the White House, on the National Security Council Staff, and at the Departments of State, Justice (DOJ), and Homeland Security (DHS). These including serving as Senior Counselor to Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ, where he led the Division’s work to advance LGBTQ+ rights and established its Policy Section, and as White House liaison to American-Jewish community, where he played a key role in outreach, policy, and communications work relating to the U.S.-Israel relationship, combating antisemitism, and Vice President Biden’s Holocaust Survivor Initiative. For his efforts to advance LGBTQ+ rights, Matt received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award and the American Bar Association’s inaugural Stonewall Award. Matt is originally from Michigan and is a graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, where he was a Truman Scholar and Senior Note Editor on the Stanford Law Review. 

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Support

Special support for the 2024 event was provided by Barbara & Sven Huseby and the Ettinger Foundation, Penguin Random House, Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and The Freedom to Read Foundation.

Interested in sponsoring or contributing to the 2025 Bravery in Literature Awards? Click here to email us or call (845) 229-5302.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 16 (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.