2000: "Mandela", by Anthony Sampson and "No Shame in My Game", by Katherine Newman
20th Annual RFK Book Award
Judges: Douglas Brinkley, Congressman Barney Frank, William Hilliard, Burke Marshall, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and John Seigenthaler, Sr.
Grand Prize Winners:
No Shame in My Game Katherine S. Newman
Authors of Mandela Authorized Biography and Profile of Working Poor Receive 20th Annual RFK Book Award
Washington, D.C. (May 11, 2000) The authors of an enlightening study of the working poor and the authorized biography of Nelson Mandela have received the 20th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Mrs. Robert Kennedy presented the award to Grand Prize winners Anthony Sampson, author of Mandela: The Authorized Biography, and Katherine S. Newman, author of No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City, at a May 11, 2000, ceremony at The Freedom Forum in Arlington, Virginia.
"These are two truly distinguished works," said Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., RFK Book Award Founder and Chair. "Nelson Mandela is one of the heroes of the age, and in Anthony Sampson he has found an ideal biographer ñ knowledgeable, scrupulous, perceptive and engrossing. Mandela is a moving book about a moving life. Katherine Newman's No Shame in My Game is an original and illuminating inquiry into the lives of people who play by the rules but remain trapped in poverty. It is a tribute to the dogged dignity of the working poor in the inner-city and a cogent plea for the rehabilitation of the opportunity structure in American society."
Mandela: The Authorized Biography (Knopf) is British journalist and author Anthony Sampson's comprehensive treatment of the life of the South African political prisoner, martyr, and president. The biography follows Mandela from his boyhood in remote villages to his transformation into a global icon of strength, moral courage and racial reconciliation. Sampson, who has known Mandela since 1951, was given Mandela's complete cooperation, including access to twenty-seven years' worth of unpublished correspondence from prison and many other private documents, and interviewed virtually every significant living figure associated with the South African leader.
Katherine Newman's No Shame in My Game (Knopf) challenges many of the assumptions concerning the inner-city poor. For two years, Newman, a professor of urban studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and her research assistants focused on 300 workers and job-seekers at four fast-food restaurants in Harlem, one of the nation's most depressed urban areas. Their results revealed that, contrary to popular opinion, America's working poor are committed to earning a living and supporting themselves despite the ready alternatives of crime and welfare. No Shame in My Game reveals the essential contribution that low-wage earners make to the survival of poor households and the ways in which these jobs affect young people's attitudes, prospects, and self-image.
The books were selected from a field of over 100 nominations that cover a wide range of subjects that reflect Robert Kennedy's concern for the poor and powerless and his struggle for social justice and human rights in the United States and around the world.
Marian Wright Edelman, longtime advocate for children and writer of influential books on child rearing and moral values, was selected as Lifetime Achievement Award winner, only the third person to be so recognized. Peter Edelman received the award on her behalf.
Marian Wright Edelman is the author of several influential and best-selling books and a long-time advocate for disadvantaged Americans. Her books, including Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change, The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, and Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers on Loving and Working for Children, offer reflections on child rearing and moral values that have enriched the lives of America's children and families. Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors, her tribute to those who helped shape her life, was published by Beacon Press in 1999.
Mrs. Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the 1960s when, as the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1967, she joined Senator Robert F. Kennedy on his visit to the Mississippi Delta, a journey into one America's most depressed areas that helped awaken the nation's conscience to child hunger and poverty. The following year, she served as counsel for the Poor People's March that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began organizing before his death. In 1973, she began the Children's Defense Fund, a national voice for children and families, and remains its president.
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