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The late Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal was honored posthumously for his courage in pursuit of the truth as the 50th Elijah Parish Lovejoy Fellow. Pearl was on his way to interview a Muslim fundamentalist leader in Pakistan last January when he was abducted. He was later killed. His sister Tamara Pearl accepted the posthumous award on behalf of her family at this year’s Lovejoy Convocation November 13 at Colby College in Maine.
“Danny was an ordinary guy with an ordinary sense of decency, but where he was extraordinary was in staying true to himself and his principles,” said Tamara Pearl. “He did not let anyone or anything intimidate him into abandoning his truth or his search for truth.” Tamara Pearl co-founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation with other family members to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications. “We believe that Danny is a powerful symbol to inspire people all over the world to reduce cultural, ethic and religious hatred and to move even beyond tolerance to the kind of acceptance, respect and even celebration that Danny had for people from every background,” she said at the convocation.
Gary Putka, Boston bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, spoke on behalf of the newspaper. “Danny fought his captors. What did they get out of all this? They sought in their vicious cunning a symbol for their cause,” said Putka. “Instead they got the opposite. For Danny now stands as a symbol and a martyr to our cause–to enlightenment and free expression, a martyr for understanding between peoples and the quest for truth.”
Reading the award citation for Daniel Pearl, Colby President William D. Adams said, “Those who took your life hoped to kill that for which you stood; instead, they inspired a worldwide effort to promote your ideals and to honor your memory. Just as Elijah Parish Lovejoy’s death failed to extinguish his candle and instead fanned the flames of abolition, justice, and freedom of the press, so too your untimely death ignited a wildfire and spread your message of understanding, hope and reconciliation.”
Colby established the Lovejoy Award in 1952 for an editor, reporter or publisher who has contributed to the nation’s journalistic achievement. Lovejoy was a Colby graduate who became America’s first martyr to freedom of the press when he was killed Nov. 7, 1837, defending his abolitionist newspaper from a pro-slavery mob. For more information on the award visit www.colby.edu/lovejoy.
“Lovejoy’s lesson to us is the duty of the press to speak out despite popular disapproval, to speak out most of all against injustice,” said Anthony Lewis, retired New York Times columnist and 1983 Lovejoy Award recipient. “I think that duty is pressing domestically in the wake of September 11. It is up to us in the press to keep a count of what the government has done and is doing to civil liberties in this country in the name of fighting terrorism.”