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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
ACLU of Washington to recognize Champions of Civil Liberties
Sienna Colburn to be honored for her support of Mark Zmuda
Section One
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ACLU of Washington to recognize Champions of Civil Liberties
Sienna Colburn to be honored for her support of Mark Zmuda

At the Bill of Rights Dinner on Saturday, November 1 at the Sheraton in Seattle, ACLU supporters will honor lifetime and recent civil liberties heroes and enjoy contemporary political humor. Awards will go to Floyd U. Jones and Alene Morris for lifetime achievements in advancing civil liberties; two legal teams from Perkins Coie that worked tirelessly on ground-breaking cases to reform public defense and enforce voting rights; internationally known rapper Macklemore, an outspoken advocate of LGBT equality; and student activist Sienna Colburn, who sparked a protest movement over the firing of a Gay educator. Comedian Larry Wilmore of 'The Daily Show' will offer his unique insights on matters absurd and serious in our current political scene.

Youth Activist Award: Sienna Colburn

The Youth Activist Award is presented to a young person (age 22 or younger) or group of young people whose activism exemplifies work to defend and extend liberty and justice for all. Sienna Colburn, a student at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, led the charge in a movement to support Mark Zmuda, a former vice principal who was fired last December for being married to a man. Sienna was a sophomore on the swim team coached by Mr. Z.

Outraged by his unfair firing, she posted to Twitter #savemrz2013. A social media campaign to Keep Mr. Z followed her tweet, and what ensued was a groundswell of support. Hundreds of students from Eastside Catholic and neighboring high schools organized walk-outs and sit-ins; the swim team posted a banner reading 'We swim for Zmuda' at a swim meet; alumni conducted rallies and warned the school they would stop donating; parents threatened to remove their children from Eastside Catholic; and a petition calling for Zmuda's reinstatement garnered more than 20,000 signatures. Student activists also marked January 31 as Z Day and urged Zmuda's supporters to wear orange, one of the school's colors, and to join in a minute of silence to show support for Mr. Z.

The students at Eastside Catholic bravely stood for the right to love and spoke out against injustice. Zmuda says, 'It is those memories I will cherish and remember after all that transpired.' Though Eastside Catholic refused to reinstate Zmuda, he has accepted a position as Associate Principal and Director of Athletic Programs at Mercer Island High School.

Courtesy of ACLU of Washington

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