Next Generation of Social Justice Advocates to Receive Pressnell Bill of Rights Award

October 31, 2017

NASHVILLE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee will honor Dwight Lewis with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization's November 30 fundraiser, The Constitution Uncorked.

In his more than 40 years at The Tennessean — serving as a general reporter, editorial page editor and columnist — Dwight Lewis consistently used his voice to raise awareness about pressing civil liberties and civil rights issues, focusing on human rights and the powerless. Years before they became "hot topics," Lewis was sparking debate about the broken criminal justice system, the need for greater police accountability, increased access to the ballot box, fair treatment of immigrants and refugees, education equity and racial profiling.

"Dwight's lifelong commitment to shining a public spotlight on social injustice has enhanced policy debate and mobilized community members to advance equality in our state," said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director. "We are excited to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to such a champion for justice in our community."

This year's celebration will also honor three young adults who represent the next generation of activists working toward social justice in their communities with the 2017 Benjamin S. Pressnell Bill of Rights Award.

Cesar Bautista, Jazmin Ramirez and Zacnite Vargas have dedicated themselves to fighting for the rights of DREAMers and DACA recipients, and for tuition equity for undocumented youth. Over the past year, these young advocates have organized numerous marches and rallies, met with legislators, and shared their personal stories with the media to raise awareness about the experience of young immigrants in the United States.

"These honorees have fought tirelessly to ensure fair treatment and educational equity for all DREAMers and DACA recipients," said Weinberg. "Their courage, dedication, and tenacity will continue to impact immigrants' rights in Tennessee and the nation, not only for themselves, but for all immigrants."

Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Kim Richey will offer a special performance.

ACLU-TN works in the community, in the courtroom and at the Tennessee General Assembly on a range of issues, including voting rights, criminal justice reform, reproductive justice, fair treatment of immigrants and refugees, LGBT equality and more.

ACLU-TN's annual celebration this year will take place on Thursday, November 30 from 6-8 p.m. at the Noah Liff Opera Center in Nashville. The cocktail party will include hors d'oeuvres, music, a silent book auction and a brief awards ceremony. Tickets for the event are $150 per person and are available here, along with sponsorship opportunities. Tickets and sponsorships may also be purchased by calling the ACLU-TN office at 615-320-7142.

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