Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights announced the winners of its 2021 RFK Book and Journalism Awards on Thursday, June 3 during a virtual ceremony.
This year's RFK Book Award winner is "Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory," by Claudio Saunt, Richard B. Russell Professor in American History.
Winners of the 2021 RFK Journalism Awards were selected from over 350 entries across print, broadcast, and new media categories, encapsulating some of the most exemplary reporting from the past year.
"My father was a firm believer in a fair and free press as one of the greatest bulwarks of democracy, and that conviction continues to power our work at RFK Human Rights today," said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. "We're proud to support journalists in their commitment to speak truth to power, keeping us informed and engaged when our democracy is most at risk."
Saunt's "Unworthy Republic," a National Book Award finalist, presents an unflinching look at the forced migration of 80,000 Native Americans across the Mississippi River in the 1830s and those who profited from the systematic, and violent, expulsion of Indigenous people. As Saunt traces white Americans' stolen wealth, and Native Americans' resulting poverty through the ages, he forces readers to reckon with difficult truths; most importantly, that this shameful chapter in America's history could have been completely avoided if more citizens had dared to speak up against such cruel and inhumane policies.
"It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, recognizing Unworthy Republic for exploring the dispossession of Native peoples," Saunt said. "It's especially gratifying because some of my heroes, including the great John Hope Franklin, have received the award in the past — and also because Robert Kennedy himself played a key role in helping to launch the era of Indigenous self-determination in the United States."