1st Amendment Award goes to Net Neutrality Champion

Yesterday Malkia Cyril, Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice, was given a Hugh M. Hefner Foundation First Amendment Award “for being the driving force in the net neutrality movement and for framing the discourse on protecting net neutrality as ‘Media Justice,’” according to the Foundation.

In an intimate ceremony that took place at the Playboy mansion's infamous grotto, Cyril started off by thanking her mother, a former Black panther who passed away in 2005, and the nearly 200 organizations that make up the Media Action Grassroots Network.

“My mom taught me that knowledge is not power, contrary to many people's opinion. What she told me is that only power is power, but knowledge is power’s prerequisite, it is power’s driver. An open affordable and democratic Internet is a requisite driver for powerful social justice movements and democracy,” said Cyril.

Malkia Cyril was also recently named as one of the Women who Won Net Neutrality by Slate Magazine and a 2015 Hero for Rights and Communications Surveillance by Access, an organization that defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world.

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation has been giving out the First Amendment Awards since 1980 to honor those who have made contributions to the protections afforded under the First Amendment. Other awardees from yesterday include:

  • Steven Listopad - For serving as a shining example when he helped his North Dakota students at Valley City State University craft the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive state statute protecting student journalists.

  • Zephyr Teachout - For her book Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, a masterly work of scholarship and insight into laws governing political corruption and its constitutional history

  • James Risen - Who waged a decade-long campaign for press freedom against the government, vigorously defending defending journalists’ First Amendment right to protect their confidential sources.

  • Victor Navasky - For his unwavering defense of the First Amendment, and to applaud his lifetime of service as an independent, truth-telling bellwether in American journalism who asks the tough questions, takes principled stances, and offers contextualize documentary that transcends the ephemeral moment.

The Center for Media Justice thanks the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, and congratulates Malkia Cyril and the other winners for their awards.