The worldwide women's marches that millions attended the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration are being honored at this year's PEN Literary Gala.
PEN America told The Associated Press on Wednesday that "The Women's March" has won the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award. Bob Bland, one of four national co-chairs who helped organize the massive Jan. 21 gathering in Washington, will accept the prize.
"The Women's March began as a quixotic idea shared with friends on Facebook. In the hands of 99.9 percent of people, it would have ended there, as a pipe dream. But Bob Bland and the group of women who joined her forged a powerful, diverse coalition that worked with immense drive to win over skeptics and build the support of an extraordinarily broad coalition of which PEN America became part," Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, said in a statement.
"The Women's March convinced Americans that mass citizen's action was possible. If not for the Women's March, people would not have flooded to airports over a weekend to reject a discriminatory visa ban just days later. We honor the Women's March for acting at a critical moment to overcome the inertia and fear of failure that can impair public mobilization, and for inspiring millions in America and around the world to do the same."
PEN, the literary and human rights organization, praised Bland and co-chairs Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour for helping to "galvanize a potent global movement to resist infringements on the rights and dignity of women and many other groups." Previous winners of the freedom of expression award include the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and Lee-Anne Walters and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha for raising awareness about the deadly levels of lead in the water supply for Flint, Michigan.
The PEN gala will be held April 25 at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, with other honorees including Stephen Sondheim, the imprisoned Ukranian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and publishing executive John Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan.