2017 Human Rights First Awards Dinner Highlights
2017 Human Rights First Awardee
Friar Tomás Gonzáles, Founder of La 72
In 2010, the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas massacred 72 migrants who were attempting to reach the United States. Horrified by the crime and moved by the vulnerability of people fleeing violence in Central America, Friar Tomás Gonzáles founded La 72 as a lifeline for people in desperate need of protection. Today, La 72 is Mexico’s largest shelter for migrants. In 2016 alone, it provided food, water, shelter, spiritual guidance, and legal advice to nearly 14,000 people. For their courageous work, Friar Tomás and the staff of La 72 are in the crosshairs of Los Zetas, which has repeatedly threatened to kill them. Unbowed, Friar Tomás persists in championing the human rights of migrants and challenging the Mexican government to end impunity for crimes against the hemisphere’s most vulnerable population.
Sidney Lumet Award for Integrity in Entertainment
The Handmaid’s Tale, Created by Bruce Miller
American popular culture has the power to move and educate millions of people. Each year the Sidney Lumet Award honors a work that raises awareness about human rights and provokes popular discussion about some of the most pressing political and social issues of our time.
This year we honor the television series The Handmaid’s Tale for its powerful and timely portrayal of a dystopian society where a theocratic regime seizes power, enslaves women, and makes homosexuality a capital crime. The series raises important questions about the fragility of democracy and how complacency, complicity, and fear can conspire to enable extremism.
Marvin E. Frankel Award
Honoring Outstanding Dedication to Pro Bono Service
The Marvin E. Frankel Award was established in 2002 to honor the memory of Human Rights First’s longtime chairman and to recognize law firms that exemplify Judge Frankel’s extraordinary dedication to human rights and commitment to pro bono service.
This year’s honorees have done outstanding work on behalf of refugees, helping to set the bar for others: Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP (Los Angeles), Vinson & Elkins LLP (Houston), Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (New York City), and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP (Washington, D.C.).