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Cokie Roberts Named 2015 Humanist of the Year

Photo: ABC News
Photo: ABC News

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities will honor Louisiana native Cokie Roberts as its 2015 Humanist of the Year at an April 23 awards dinner in Baton Rouge. The award is given annually by the state’s humanities council as part of its efforts to recognize the individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana.

Born in New Orleans, Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming. Roberts also serves as Senior News Analyst for National Public Radio. From 1996-2002 she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program This Week. In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting. Along with her husband, Steven, Roberts writes a weekly column syndicated in newspapers around the country by United Media. Their earlier collaboration, From this Day Forward, an account of their more than forty-year marriage and other marriages in American history, immediately went onto The New York Times bestseller list. Roberts’s books include the bestsellers We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters, Founding Mothers, and Ladies of Liberty. In 2008 the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend,” one of the very few Americans to have attained that honor. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six.

The 2015 Bright Lights Awards Dinner Presented by IBERIABANK will take place at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge on Thursday, April 23 at 7pm. Tickets begin at $150. Table sponsorships are available to interested parties.

Click here to purchase tickets today!

In addition to Roberts, the LEH named these individuals and organizations as 2015 awardees:

Chair’s Institutional Award
BHP Billiton has committed $540,000 over three years to support the LEH’s innovative PRIME TIME Preschool program. More than 2,500 children and their parents will be directly impacted across 19 sites in seven parishes, via the new “BHP-Billiton/PRIME TIME Preschool Early Literacy and Healthy Lifestyle Initiative.” The parishes benefiting from the new partnership include: Orleans, Terrebonne, Lafourche, Caddo, Bossier, Red River, and Desoto.

Champion of Culture Award
Through Daryl Byrd‘s leadership, IBERIABANK has been a steady and visible supporter of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Awards, as well as a visionary community partner across Louisiana including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Iberia and Shreveport.

Humanities Book Awards
The LEH recognizes two outstanding works of history as 2015 Books of the Year. Jerry Lee Lewis, by Rick Bragg, is the essential biography of a groundbreaking Louisiana musician. Upstairs Lounge Arson, by Clayton Delery-Edwards, returns to a tragic moment to deliver new insights into the social history of New Orleans.

Humanities Documentary Film Award
Big Charity, directed by Alexander John Glustrom, follows the staff of the New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina through the facility’s closing after the storm, and traces the centuries of history and familial bonds established at Charity. The film won the Jury Award and Audience Award for a Louisiana Feature at the 2014 New Orleans Film Festival. Click here to watch a trailer.

Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography
Deborah Luster is a New Orleans-based photographer whose work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Art Museum and many other museums. Her monographs include  One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana and Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish. Luster was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013.

Light Up for Literacy Award
Given in partnership with the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana and the Library of Congress, the inaugural Light Up for Literacy Award goes to Ann Dobie, a retired English Professor who taught almost 40 years at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, directed the Acadiana Writing Project, and continues to serve as the literature section editor She has published more than 50 scholarly works and serves as the head judge for Louisiana Letters About Literature, a statewide student writing competition.

Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities
Susan Roach is the Mildred Saunders Adams Endowed Professor in English at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Dr. Roach’s tireless work as a folklorist includes the documentation and presentation of Louisiana arts and crafts, music, ritual traditions, occupational lore, and foodways. She served as a key leader in the folklorist response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and continues to author new scholarship, most recently in the groundbreaking Delta Pieces project.

Click here to see a list of awardees since 1985.

For more information on the 2015 Humanities Awards, contact Brian Boyles at [email protected] or 504.620.2632.