THE VERY REASON Stephanie McMillian is a cartoonist, she says, is because she is motivated by the propulsive goal and hope of social justice. Given that her focus resonates powerfully through her work, it seems a natural outcome that McMillan has now been recognized by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.
The center officially announced this week that McMillan was its winner in the Cartoon category — one of eight recipients of the RFK Journalism Awards. The RFK Book Award winner was also announced: University of Minnesota political science professor Kathryn Sikkink, who authored “The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions Are Changing World Politics.”
McMillan — a comics journalist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and contributor to the site Cartoon Movement — was recognized for ”The Beginning of the American Fall” (her reporting on the Occupy movement) and her “Code Green” editorial cartoons that focus “exclusively on the environmental emergency.”
“The award is supposed to honor work that furthers the cause of social justice, and I’m gratified that my work is viewed that way,” McMillan tells Comic Riffs on Tuesday. “Contributing to the fight for social justice is, indeed, the reason I do the work in the first place.
“I’m also happy that the environment is seen as a social-justice issue,” McMillan continues. “The more we can connect the fight to stop the destruction of our planet with the struggle for liberation of humanity, the better chance for success we may have with both goals.”
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The RFK Journalism Awards, the center says, honor reporting “on issues that reflect Robert Kennedy’s dedication to human rights and social justice, and his belief in the power of individual action.”
“I’m very honored to receive this award, especially because it’s judged by professional journalists — including cartoonists,” McMillan tells Comic Riffs, “and I very much value the good opinion of my distinguished peers.”
The awards — which each include “a cash stipend” — will be presented May 24 during a ceremony at Washington’s U.S. Institute of Peace.
McMillan’s honor also reflects well on the site Cartoon Movement . Another contributor to site, Portland-based Matt Bors, will receive the Herblock Prize on Thursday in Washington.