Debra Sweet, Executive Director, World Can’t Wait, To Receive 2012 American Humanist Award as “Heroine”

For immediate release 


May 7, 2012
Contact: Lina Thorne 718 825 9119
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait Director, will receive the 2012 American Humanist Association’s (AHA) Humanist Heroine Award. The award will be presented at the AHA national conference on June 9 in New Orleans and is a joint presentation of the AHA and its Feminist Caucus. Since 1982, this award is given annually to women who promote and advance the ideals of human rights and gender justice using a non-theological approach. Past awardees have included Judy Norsigian, Robin Morgan, Julia Sweeney and Amy Goodman.

Debra Sweet helped establish and continues to lead World Can’t Wait in its mission to “stop the crimes of our government,” including unjust military occupations, covert drone wars, torture and indefinite detention as well as reversing the fascist direction of U.S. society.  She has worked with abortion providers for thirty years, organizing community support and helping them withstand anti-abortion violence.  Since the age of 19, when she confronted Richard Nixon during a face-to-face meeting and told him to stop the war in Vietnam, Debra has been a leader in the opposition to U.S. wars and military occupations.

Sweet will be leading World Can’t Wait’s efforts in protesting  NATO’s meeting in Chicago, May 20-21, where  the U.S. and its military allies will discuss the continuation of US/NATO presence in Afghanistan until 2024.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President, Freedom from Religion Foundation, nominated Debra for this award. “Debra Sweet, more than any person I know, embodies heroism: for women, for peace, for the progression of humanity,” she says. “She inspired me, her classmates, the city of Madison, Wisconsin and the entire nation when, as a student, she met President Richard Nixon. Her courage to openly express the views of most Americans toward Nixon and the war was an electrifying moment that touched many and opened our eyes to personal activism. She has gone on to dedicate her life to peace and progressive causes, including feminist issues.” 

On Friday, May 4, Sweet was convicted with 19 others of disorderly conduct for a 2011 protest against the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy.  “700,000 people were stopped, questioned and frisked by the NYPD last year, the great majority of them Black and Latino, in violation of their constitutional rights and their humanity,” said Sweet. Fellow defendants in the non-violent civil resistance were Dr. Cornel West of Princeton University; Vietnam war resister and revolutionary leader Carl Dix; clergy, students and residents of the Harlem community who had been victimized by the policy.  Dr. West called Sweet “a long-distance freedom fighter whom I deeply respect and love.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION about The American Humanist Association, contact: Brian Magee, (202) 238-9088 extension 105, Mobile: (202) 681-2425.   FOR MORE INFORMATION about Freedom from Religion Foundation, contact: Annie Laurie Gaylor (608) 256-8900.