Last week, author and comics creator (and CBLDF Advisory Board co-chair!) Neil Gaiman and 39 other honorees were awarded the title of 2014 Free Speech Defender by the National Collation Against Censorship. On November 3rd, during a gala New York City, NCAC celebrated their 40th Anniversary and 40 years of free speech by honoring those whose advocacy work in their respective fields has made them champions of free speech and active protectors of the First Amendment.
Amongst the guests and honorees accompanying Neil Gaiman on the red carpet was his wife Amanda Palmer, Judy Blume, Robie Harris, and the Trumbell High Thespian Society. As individuals and groups who have faced controversy for their creative works, NCAC commemorated their struggles but also celebrated their continually active role in combating censorship and protecting freedom of expression. CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein was also on hand to celebrate these free speech fighters and to give Gaiman his award.
KidLit.TV was at the event to interview these influential individuals and their perceptions of their own advocacy work:
At about the 4:25 mark, Gaiman talks to KLTV about CBLDF:
“I’ve been doing stuff with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Since about 1991-92, when I first moved to America. A lot of that had to do with discovering the First Amendment… Suddenly being in a country where freedom of expression was a human right, like breathing, seemed to me so wonderful and something that just had to be fought for. And comics are such easy targets because people assume they’re for kids and because people can get upset with just one image.”
From reflecting upon the significant strides these creators have made and recognizing their work and achievements to highlighting new events like the 20th anniversary and new edition of Robie Harris’ highly controversial children’s book It’s Perfectly Normal, this was a night of acknowledgment but more importantly a night of fun! Amanda Palmer performed a tribute to Judy Blume; the Trumbell High Thespian Society performed a scene from their censored student production of Rent; and host John Hodgman brought humor and a lighthearted air culminating in a truly memorable 40th Anniversary for NCAC.
You can view more pictures and videos of the gala event here. CBLDF congratulates all of the honorees for this well-deserved recognition of their work standing up to censorship and advocating for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to read!
Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!