In the spirit of courageous advocacy of freedom of speech, the John Peter Altgeld Award will be presented to Dawn Sherman, a student who challenged her high school’s implementation of the Illinois Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. Her initial lawsuit resulted in an injunction from U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman prohibiting the law’s continued observation at Buffalo Grove High School, then expanded into a class-suit allowing other students and school districts statewide to participate. Ultimately, on May 29, 2008, Gettleman applied the injunction to the entire State of Illinois while the constitutionality of the law is considered.
“This year’s Altgeld Award honors young people who stand up for their First Amendment freedoms in the schools they attend even when it is unpopular,” said Shawn Healy, resident scholar, McCormick Freedom Musuem. “Sherman represents the noble cause of civic activism that will without doubt inspire students across Illinois to stand up for what they believe is right, and to be active participants in this constitutional democracy.”
The Altgeld award is named after a former governor of Illinois.
If you’re able to go support Dawn, the festivities take place from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday), July 26th, in Washington Square Park. She’ll get the award around 12:15.
How wonderful it is to see a young atheist activist being honored for her courage.