04/22/2014 05:22 PM
BATON ROUGE – Zachary Sawyer Kopplin has been named the third recipient of the LSU
Manship School of Mass Communication’s Courage & Justice Award and the accompanying
The 20-year-old Baton Rouge native will receive the honor at an award ceremony Wednesday
at 3:30 p.m. in the school's Holliday Forum. While still a student at Baton Rouge
Magnet High School, Kopplin launched a crusade to halt the teaching of creationism
in Louisiana’s public high schools. His social and political activism since has expanded
to Texas and to charter schools. He has been recognized nationally for his efforts.
Kopplin gathered the signatures of 78 Nobel Laureate scientists and the support of
a number of national science organizations in opposing the teaching of creationism
at tax-supported schools.
He played a key role in getting the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
to adopt new life science textbooks, prompting The Advocate to label the then-senior
“the newest giant-killer in state education policy.”
“No matter where you stand on this issue, most would agree it takes an extraordinary
amount of courage for someone of his age to mount a campaign that has such a sweeping
consequence,” said Jerry Ceppos, dean of the Manship School.
The Courage & Justice Award is given to an individual whose efforts in pursuit of
a perceived just cause and civic benefit display “courage and ethics in the face of
opposition while operating with a lack of resources and under a substantial time commitment,
as well as overcoming other challenges.”
The $1,000 purse is underwritten by the Donna and Hans Sternberg Foundation.
Kopplin has been featured in national newspaper stories and has been a guest on a
number of television shows. He currently resides in Houston, where he is a history
major at Rice University.
He is the son of Andy and Andrea Kopplin of New Orleans. His father is the deputy
mayor and CEO of New Orleans and was chief of staff for former Louisiana Govs. Mike
Foster and Kathleen Blanco. Nominees for the award are considered annually by a selection
committee comprised of Manship School faculty and staff.
In 2011, the inaugural award was given to Stanley Nelson of Ferriday, La. Nelson,
editor of the weekly Concordia Parish Sentinel, was honored investigating unsolved
Ku Klux Klan murders in the Natchez region during the 1960s. Buddy “Bob” Johnson,
a WBRZ anchor and reporter, was posthumously honored in 2012 for his bravery in covering
the Baton Rouge riots in 1972 that left him with severe head injuries and confined
him to a nursing home until he died in late 2011. No award was given in 2013.
For more information on the Courage & Justice Award, contact Emily Wascom 225-578-7312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2014