Malkia Cyril Wins Hugh M. Hefner Foundation First Amendment Award

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation First Amendment Awards this year will honor Malkia Cyril, co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice home of the Media Action Grassroots Network, national network of 175 organization working to ensure media access, rights, and representation for marginalized communities.

Malkia is receiving the 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 Hugh M. Hefner Foundation’s press release. The awards ceremony will take place tomorrow at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

“I am honored to be given this award and thank the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation for understanding the profound impact the FCC’s net neutrality ruling has on our ability to communicate and organize. Net neutrality is inherently a civil rights issue because it redistributes power, it redistributes access, and it redistributes representation and visibility in a way that no other set of rules has been able to do online,” 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.

Malkia Cyril grew up believing that "everyone deserves a public voice." With a mother that worked both as an editor of the Black Panther's newspaper and as a long-time educator, Cyril recognized the power of media and culture work at an early age. A prolific writer and public speaker, Cyril's articles have appeared in Politico, the Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, and dozens more, including documentaries including Outfoxed, Broadcast Blues, and MissRepresentation. Cyril is Prime Movers fellow and in 2012 received the prestigious Donald H. McGannon Award for work to advance the roles of women and people of color in the media reform movement.

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation has been giving out the First Amendment Awards since 1980, honoring those who have made contributions to the protections afforded under the First Amendment. Malkia joins an impressive list of winners, including Muneer Awad, Glenn Greenwald, Norman Lear, Walter Karp, Studs Terkel, Cecile Richards, Michael Moore, John Seigenthaler, Bill Maher, and Molly Ivins.

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