The Anti-Defamation League on Monday presented the staff of Capital Gazette and the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings with the Levenson Family Defender of Democracy Award.
Both awards were presented at the Kay Family Dinner during the 25th annual ADL In Concert Against Hate in Washington, D.C. This honor is given annually to those who act courageously in defense of democratic values.
Capital Gazette was honored for the news organization’s coverage of the June 2018 shooting in its Annapolis newsroom. Cummings served in public office for 36 years, first in the Maryland House of Delegates and then in the U.S. House of Representatives. During funeral services in Baltimore, speakers eulogized him as someone who fought for not only his constituents but for all Americans.
Capital editor Rick Hutzell and Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the wife of the late representative, accepted the award.
On June 28, 2018, a gunman entered the Capital Gazette office in Annapolis and killed five employees — Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiassen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, and Rebecca Smith. The shooting was a targeted attack on the newspaper by a man who had a long-running feud with the organization stemming from a 2011 story on a criminal harassment case against him.
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More than 2,000 community leaders, civil rights activists, policymakers, law enforcement officers, students and friends of ADL gathered at the Kennedy Center to hear the National Symphony Orchestra and celebrate the award recipients. In addition to Capital Gazette and Cummings, four others were honored Monday night with the Kay Family Award for their work to bring communities together in response to hateful experiences:
Judge Thomas Buergenthal: A Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps and one of only three children who survived the 44-mile Auschwitz Death March in January of 1945. He has devoted his life to promoting and protecting human rights, perhaps most significantly by serving on the International Court of Justice in The Hague from 2000 to 2010. He is currently the Emeritus Lobingier professor of Comparative Law & Jurisprudence at George Washington University Law School.
Taylor Dumpson: In 2017, Dumpson became the first black woman to serve as president of the American University Student Government. In the wake of her election, she was the target of a racially motivated hate crime on her first day in office. Following the incident, ADL alerted Taylor and the AU Administration that white supremacists were also planning to attack her online. Taylor fought back by successfully pursuing litigation against her neo-Nazi perpetrators and has won several landmark settlements, holding white supremacists accountable for their online harassment.
Claire Sarnowski: Sarnowski is a high school student in Oregon who was inspired by Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener to spearhead successful legislation mandating that Oregon school districts to provide Holocaust and genocide education.
Mia Yamamoto: Yamamoto was born in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona as Michael Frances Yamamoto, and went on to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War. As a member of the transgender community, her work has led to prominent recognition from the LGBTQ+, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and legal communities.
The Anti-Defamation League is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism, its mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.